Those in the food and beverage industry are still feeling the impact of COVID-19, so the Small Business Administration has introduced the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to offer potential assistance and direction.
Robert Coffey, district director of the Kentucky office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, said there is a training session scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday via Microsoft Teams to explain how to apply for the funding, who can apply and what the funding can be used for.
“The way it works is it helps these businesses recover losses experienced during 2020 when many had to close for a time or had a limited capacity which reduced their gross receipts,” he said.
The RRF was part of the American Rescue Plan Act that became law on March 11, he said. The SBA appropriated $28.6 billion in funds to be awarded to small food and beverage businesses.
Libby Spencer — president of the Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce — said the restaurant industry in Hopkins County is a huge employer, and the RRF is a great opportunity to help give them a boost to bring them back to where they were before COVID-19.
“According to the latest statistics, small businesses in Kentucky employ almost 60% of those who work in the Food Service and Accommodation Industry,” she said.
The application for the funding will launch at 11 a.m. Monday, said Coffey. The training was supposed to happen before the launch, but it did not work out that way.
“We are hoping to provide the information to those who have not applied by the time of the training to encourage them to do so without any further delay,” he said.
Anyone selling food and beverages can apply, meaning anyone in the restaurant industry, food stands, food trucks, food carts, caterers, bars, taverns, coffee shops and ice cream shops, he said. Those whose onsite sales to the public are at least 33% of gross receipts like bakeries, brewpubs, tasting rooms, wineries, distilleries and inns that sell food onsite.
Coffey said the money can be used for payroll, utility payments, business maintenance, supplies, food and beverage expenses and operating costs.
Any business that is awarded money has until March 11, 2023 to use the funds, said Coffey.
“These are funds that do not have to be repaid that will help business recoup losses due to the pandemic,” said Coffey, who wants as many small food and beverage businesses to apply for the RRF as soon as it becomes available.
“It is very likely that this amount of funding will be exhausted so we are urging Kentucky businesses to apply immediately,” he said.
For any business that qualifies, Coffey urges decision makers to visit the restaurants.sba.gov website to register, so once the program goes live on Monday they can apply.
Coffey encourages all small businesses to keep up to date on the programs available on the SBA website and to look at state and local websites as well.
“Sometimes there are local and state sources of assistance that can help,” he said.
For the non-business owners, Coffey encourages everyone to support small local businesses because it helps the local economy.
“If we make it a goal to support one more local small business, we will help our community by keeping the money circulating locally,” he said.