Local restaurants and other small businesses may experience a windfall with the replenishment of the Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund – but only if the grassroots movement to support it is successful.
The $48 billion appropriation bill will be assessed during an upcoming procedural vote. These funds will go back into the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $28.6 billion grant program which was enacted in March 2021. This fund served as an alternative for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. However, proponents of the bill worry that it won’t get the ten Republican votes it needs to avoid a filibuster. That’s why Chanda Causer, Executive Director of Main Street Alliance, is helping restaurant owners, particularly in Wisconsin, connect with their local senators to explain the importance of the bill.
Causer says small businesses have suffered disproportionately in the pandemic, and many local restaurants were neglected as the federal government created initiatives to distribute aid. In the first round of funding, small businesses in the “food and accommodations” sector received the largest amount of forgivable loans (around $41 billion). However, many complained that the eligibility requirements were too niche, and access to the aid became hindered by red tape. As a result, small business organization Main Street Alliance is providing support for struggling founders like Chef Daniel Jacobs, the co-owner of three Milwaukee-area restaurants. Jacobs says that of the 3,000 restaurants left out of the first round of funding, 70% will close without federal aid – and his local Senator, Democrat Tammy Baldwin, agrees.
“I hope that we're able to gain the 60 votes we need to pass this legislation,” Baldwin told Spectrum News 1. “The first round ended up assisting maybe one-third of all restaurants. It is high time that we respond to the desperate needs of the remaining two-thirds.”