Last night, at a House Small Business Committee markup, U.S. Representative Angie Craig and her colleagues voted to advance legislation that included a relief grant program for struggling restaurants, wrapping up a months-long effort to provide support to small businesses across the country. Among other provisions, the package advanced by the House Small Business Committee included $25 billion for the creation of the Restaurants Revitalization Fund, which would provide financial support to struggling food and drinking establishments.
During the markup, Craig spoke in opposition to an amendment offered by one of her colleagues which would have stripped out the aid for restaurants entirely. Craig urged her colleagues to support the American Rescue Plan proposal, arguing that the package would offer desperately needed support to the nearly 500,000 independent restaurants nationwide, as well as their 11 million employees, whose livelihoods have been in jeopardy since the crisis began.
“Restaurants were some of the first businesses to understand the devastating economic impact of this public health crisis — and they are still feeling the effects,” said Craig. “In April of last year alone, more than 5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, accounting for more than 25% of the job losses nationwide that month.”
“Restaurants are the beating heart of every single one of our communities. We must stand up for them and reject the substitute… that would strip this relief from our communities’ most cherished small businesses,” Craig concluded.
Providing relief to restaurants in Minnesota has been an urgent priority of Representative Craig’s for several months. Just last week, Craig led several of her colleagues in the Minnesota delegation in urging Congressional leaders to include direct financial support to restaurants in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package.
Grant money provided by the Restaurant Revitalization Fund could be used for a wide variety of expenses, including payroll, mortgage payments, rent, utilities, supplies, paid sick leave and other operational expenses. Grant totals would be determined on the basis of need by comparison 2020 revenue totals to revenue collected in 2019, before the pandemic. $5 billion of the total amount would be set aside for businesses with less than $500,000 in annual revenue, to ensure that smaller entities are able to access relief. And during the first 3 weeks of the program, applications from restaurants owned and operated by women, veterans or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals would receive priority.