“I am ready, I probably researched this more than most people,” she said. “I’ve got ample applications printed out and filled out.” She has had her application ready to go for weeks. All three of her restaurants are currently closed. Some experts say the federal restaurant revitalization fund that’s about to open is crumbs compared to the need.
Jill Marcus is among those needing financial help. She owns three Charlotte restaurants – the café at the Discovery Place, the café at the foundation for the Carolinas, and Halcyon in uptown Charlotte. She also has a catering company. The relief funds are first come, first serve – and you must visit sba.gov/restaurants to apply.
“We are anxiously awaiting the restaurant revitalization grant,” she said. There is a federal relief act – money earmarked just for restaurants – but industry insiders who spoke to WCNC Charlotte’s Michelle Boudin argue it’s not nearly enough money.
Some small businesses that had to close earlier in the pandemic have been able to reopen, in large part because of customer support. That’s according to a January 2021 report from Facebook and the Small News Roundtable, a coalition of organizations that advocate for businesses and entrepreneurs. According to the report, 25% of small businesses were closed in December 2020, an improvement from 31% in April 2020. Among those that closed and later reopened, 31% say customer support is the reason they were able to do so. Businesses also cited social distancing measures (40%) and loosened restrictions (30%) as factors that allowed them to reopen. According to the U.S. Small News Administration, when you spend $100 at a small business, $48 stays in the community. Spend the same $100 at a big-box store or national retailer and only $14 stays.
The SBA will keep the program open until all funds are exhausted. For the first 21 days that the program is open, the agency will be prioritizing applications from businesses that are owned and operated by women, veterans, and those considered “socially and economically disadvantaged.” “We expect this funding will be exhausted almost immediately,” John Standford with the Small News Roundtable told Boudin. “There are just so many restaurants and bars that have helped so much pain. There isn’t enough funding.”
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