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American Rescue Plan Includes Restaurant Relief, Additional PPP, and Other Small Business Support

  • Stimulus bill that passed House on Saturday includes $25 billion in grants for restaurants and bars
  • Approval would also mean additional funding for EIDL grants, shuttered venue operator program
  • Legislation offers only modest additional support for the Paycheck Protection Program

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Longstanding business assistance programs would receive additional funding if the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is approved, but the most significant share of business support in the legislation would go to restaurants and bars.

The stimulus proposal passed the House of Representatives in a 219-212 vote on Saturday, and is expected to go before the Senate this week. Key components include $1,400 stimulus checks for qualifying Americans, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, and $350 billion in funding for state and local governments to offset tax revenue losses experienced during the pandemic.

Among the bill’s proposals for small business support, the biggest line item is the $25 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund. This would provide eligible eateries and drinking establishments with up to $10 million per entity or $5 million per physical location, with recipients limited to 20 or fewer locations. The grants would be determined by subtracting 2020 revenues from 2019 revenues.

Restaurants have long been calling for targeted aid due to the challenges they have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially limitations on indoor dining capacities. The Independent Restaurant Coalition says more than 110,000 restaurants and bars have closed since the start of the pandemic, putting 2.5 million people out of work.

The IRC previously advocated for $120 billion to support the industry, and said the $25 billion fund is modeled after the proposal. Despite the smaller pool of funding, the organization has praised the measure and called on the Senate to pass the bill.

The Targeted EIDL Advance program would receive $15 billion in additional funding if the bill is approved. The program provides grants to businesses in low-income communities with 300 or fewer employees and an economic loss of at least 30 percent.

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program would be boosted by another $1.25 billion on top of the $15 billion already committed to the program under the Economic Aid Act passed in December. This program supports certain arts and cultural organizations, such as theaters and qualifying museums, but the U.S. Small Business Administration has not yet released detailed information on eligibility requirements or started accepting applications.

The Paycheck Protection Program receives only minor support, with eligibility expanded to larger nonprofits and digital news sites and an additional $7.25 billion made available for forgivable loans. The Economic Aid Act pumped an additional $284.5 billion into the program, and SBA data shows that nearly 2.2 million loans totaling approximately $156.25 billion had been approved by the end of February.

The legislation would also dedicate $175 million to a “community navigator” pilot program to increase awareness of and participation in relief programs available to businesses, particularly among socially or economically disadvantaged, women, or veteran business owners.

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