Stabenow, Peters Press for Additional Support for Restaurants Impacted by COVID-19 PandemicWednesday, July 14, 2021
U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Gary Peters (MI) today pressed for additional action to provide relief for Michigan restaurants and bars that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In their letter to the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Senators highlighted concerns they have heard from small business owners regarding the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and urged the SBA to address challenges faced by businesses that applied for support from the Fund and provide additional information to businesses seeking relief.
“As Senators who are deeply supportive of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and its mission helping Michigan’s food and beverage providers, we have heard concerning feedback from constituents regarding the program,” wrote the Senators. “There are still many Michigan restaurants that have been shut out from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and with each passing day, more independent businesses are forced to shutter permanently or file for bankruptcy… Further delays in the distribution of information and funding are unacceptable and would have irreversible consequences for this industry.”
Strong demand for relief from the Fund has resulted in funds being depleted and applications no longer being accepted. The Senators both support the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021, which would provide $60 billion in additional funding for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
The full text of the letter can be found below, or click here.
The Honorable Isabella Casillas Guzman
Administrator, Small Business Administration
409 3rd Street, SW
Washington, DC 20416
Dear Administrator Guzman:
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was created to provide emergency assistance to restaurants, bars, and other eligible businesses that have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Senators who are deeply supportive of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and its mission helping Michigan’s food and beverage providers, we have heard concerning feedback from constituents regarding the program. Landlords and banks are no longer permitting deferrals and are pressing for immediate payment of past due accounts, businesses are receiving eviction notices, and mom-and-pop businesses are being forced to sell. Relief is critical to these business’ survival.
It has been nearly two months since the Restaurant Revitalization Fund portal was opened and the Small Business Administration (SBA) began receiving applications, and after an overwhelming response to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, the application portal is now closed for new applications and the fund has been exhausted. We are supportive of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021, which would provide $60 billion in additional funding for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and are pushing to pass it through Congress as quickly as possible. There are still many Michigan restaurants that have been shut out from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and with each passing day, more independent businesses are forced to shutter permanently or file for bankruptcy.
In addition to general funding issues, Michigan small businesses have been frustrated by the lack of communication and information provided to applicants. We understand restrictions have been placed on communication directly with applicants and the SBA is referring them to a third party phone number, which has prevented constituents receiving the support that would streamline their application efforts. We urge you to provide more substantive support when applicants dial the customer service number for questions pertaining to their applications.
Additionally, we realize that due to several lawsuits beyond the SBA’s control, funding was pulled from priority period applicants to fund non-priority applications. Thus, several businesses that were promised funding several weeks ago are now met with the reality that their awards will not be distributed. We urge you to swiftly provide any and all alternative resources to the small businesses impacted by the recent court rulings.
Further delays in the distribution of information and funding are unacceptable and would have irreversible consequences for this industry. In an effort to keep our constituents informed and ensure our small businesses receive the support they were promised, we respectfully request that you answer the following questions:
- How many Restaurant Revitalization Fund applications from Michigan entities have been approved?
- How many Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants have been disbursed to Michigan applicants? How many total dollars?
- What additional avenues of customer support is the SBA planning on giving Restaurant Revitalization Fund applicants? Are potential changes and improvements to the customer service number imminent?
Thank you for your consideration of this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices if we can be of additional assistance.
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