OSWEGO — The U.S. Small Business Administration will begin accepting registrations for the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund Friday, April 30. The program will provide direct relief funds to restaurants and other hard-hit food establishments that have experienced economic distress and significant operational losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications will open Monday, May 3. The online application will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted.

Dave Turner, Director of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning, said the Small Business Administration’s grant program for the food-service industry was created by Congress as part of a pandemic-aid package.

“The food and beverage industry represents the largest segment of visitor spending in Oswego County,” said Turner. “In 2019, before the pandemic hit, the 220-plus restaurants in Oswego County generated more than $54.1 million to the county’s economy. All of these establishments took a hit during the pandemic. Some restaurants remain closed, and some are just re-opening.”

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is the first federal pandemic aid exclusively for restaurants, bars and other food-service businesses. Grant recipients are eligible to receive funding equivalent to their pandemic-related revenue loss, up to $10 million per business, according to the SBA website. A single physical location can receive no more than $5 million.

“I encourage our business owners to act quickly to apply for federal aid,” said Turner.

Interested businesses can begin registering for the grant application portal on Friday, April 30, and applications will open at noon on the following Monday, according to the SBA. All information for the program can be found at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/restaurant-revitalization-fund.

“Restaurants are the core of our neighborhoods and propel economic activity on main streets across the nation. They are among the businesses that have been hardest hit and need support to survive this pandemic. We want restaurants to know that help is here,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “The SBA has focused on the marketplace realities of our food and beverage businesses in designing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to meet businesses where they are. And we are committed to equity to ensure our smaller and underserved businesses, which have suffered the most, can access this critical relief, recover, and grow more resilient.”

Established under the American Rescue Plan, and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides a total of $28.6 billion in direct relief funds to restaurants and other hard-hit food establishments that have experienced economic distress and significant operational losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds must be used for allowable expenses by March 11, 2023.

In preparation, the SBA recommends qualifying applicants familiarize themselves with the application process in advance to ensure a smooth and efficient application experience.

The official guidance, including program guide, frequently-asked questions, and application sample are available on the SBA website. Live recorded virtual training webinars will be held Wednesday, April 28 at 1 p.m. and at 2:30 p.m.

For the first 21 days that the program is open, the SBA will prioritize funding applications from businesses owned and controlled by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. All eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications as soon as the portal opens. After the first three weeks, all eligible applications will be funded on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit sba.gov/restaurants or in Spanish at sba.gov/restaurantes.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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