$ 28.6B on the way to restaurants and breweries | First

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The relief programs that funneled money to businesses in the United States in 2020 were not enough to stop 110,000 restaurants from closing by the end of the year, but a new round of funding from the Small Business Administration could help the food and beverage industry return in 2021..

Senator John Hickenlooper and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers visited Atrevida Beer Company in northern Colorado Springs on April 7 (National Beer Day) to explain how local restaurants and breweries may soon be in able to receive financial assistance from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

“The pandemic has been tough on businesses in Colorado Springs and across the state, but especially on restaurants, bars and brewers,” Hickenlooper said. “Dozens of Colorado breweries closed their doors last year and many more are suffering. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund will help them by providing flexible emergency assistance for everything from rent and supplies to the cost of PPE and construction of outdoor seating. “

Colorado’s restaurant industry generates about $ 14.5 billion in revenue each year, according to the state. He lost about $ 3 billion last year. About one in three restaurant workers lost their jobs during the pandemic, and the state estimates that 78,000 people have still not re-entered the workforce. In Colorado Springs, more than 12 restaurants closed last year.

Part of the US $ 1.9 trillion bailout act, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will distribute $ 28.6 billion to eligible food businesses to help prevent even more from falling back as the pandemic continues. continues until 2021.

Grants are tax-free and limited to a maximum of $ 5 million per restaurant or $ 10 million per group of restaurants. To be eligible, business owners will need to have an overall financial loss in 2020. Funding amounts will be calculated by taking the difference between the gross income for 2019 and 2020, then subtracting all loans from the Check Protection Program. payroll that a business might have contracted.

A wide range of food and beverage companies – wineries, caterers, food carts, traditional traditional restaurants and more – can apply.

As of April 12, the SBA had not yet set a firm date for the start of accepting applications.

Atrevida co-owner and chief brewer Jessica Fierro is one of many small business owners worried about the day she can stand in line.

“I think 2020 has been extremely difficult for all of us, especially those of us in small businesses and in the hospitality industry,” said Fierro.

She has been operating Atrevida since January 2018 with her husband, Richard. She said they had applied for both rounds of PPP funding, but it could only be used to cover expenses such as payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities. Money from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund can be used for a wider range of business needs, such as purchasing food and beverages.

“Businesses have different kinds of overhead and debt and all that stuff, so to a person that relief fund could mean, ‘I can keep my doors open.’ And to another person, that relief might mean, ‘Hey, I can start operating and building an inventory,’ ”Fierro said. “It does not come with the same restrictions as the PPP loan.”

Randy Price, who co-owns the Rocky Mountain Restaurant Group with his wife, Liz, said that while their customers returned when the restaurant business reopened last year, he found new employees to fill the staffing in the eight Urban Egg locations they manage along the front. The lineup continued to be a challenge. Price and his wife also operate Salsa Brava Fresh Mexican Grill in northeast Colorado Springs.

“The problem with everyone in the industry right now is really finding people,” he says. “We have recovered most of our employees, but it’s just very difficult right now to recruit additional employees to start moving towards this reopening with fewer restrictions. I think everyone feels the same pain. We are as creative as possible with sponsorship programs and advertising and let it be known that we are looking for the right people to work, grow and keep moving forward. “

Price believes the grants could be crucial for many restaurateurs who have reached 2021 by holding only a thread.

“It will really help people keep digging in the hole they were dug in last year,” he said. “They’re not taking any applications yet and there’s still a gray area, but we’re definitely keeping an eye on it and planning to participate.”

Mackenzie Tamayo, COVID-19 program director for the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center, said business owners may have to be patient longer. She said deploying large federal grants can be a difficult process.

“What always worries us is giving too much information up front until things have really solidified,” she said. “For example, the grant application for operators of closed sites was opened on April 8 and the portal was closed the next day. So we’re just aware of the fact that once this kicks off there will be a huge learning curve in terms of what’s put on the site and how people apply.

She said business owners can find more information about the program at sba.gov. Other questions can be answered by contacting Pikes Peak SBDC or the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund will distribute $ 28.6 billion to eligible food businesses, not $ 28.6 million, as was originally announced. the Business Journal regret the error.

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