May 24 deadline nears for federal restaurant assistance program

New Hampshire eateries urged to apply for Covid aid funds

Wood Table Top On Blur Restaurant Interior BackgroundThe nation’s restaurants have requested more than twice the amount available in the $28.6 billion federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund, but both the U.S. Small Business Administration and the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association are urging businesses to continue submitting their applications before it stops accepting them at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 24.

As vaccinations grow and Covid restrictions fall away, restaurants are doing better, said Mike Somers, president of the NHLRA, but “we are not at 2019. We are not even close.”

Applying to the RRF, with set-asides for smaller restaurants and priorities for owners inn disadvantaged groups, is really rather simple. Most establishments simply have to subtract their 2020 revenue and whatever they received from the Paycheck Protection Program from their 2019 revenue and you are entitled to the difference, up to $10 million. Unlike the PPP, the application is submitted through a website, and so far, the rollout has been relatively smooth, Somers said.

Somers said the National Restaurant Association will lobby for another round of funding for the program, or at least push for Congress to inject enough money to meet the entire demand.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which President Biden signed into law on March 11, It began accepting applications on April 30.

On Tuesday, the SBA revealed that it has received 303,000 applications so far, representing more than $69 billion, yet it has only approved about 38,000 of those applications and awarded just over $6 billion. The amounts awarded by state have not yet been released.

So far, 67% of the applications have come from priority groups — 122,000 women-owned restaurants, followed by 71,000 in the economically disadvantaged group and 14,000 veterans.

Meanwhile the PPP’s $291.5 billion closed on May 4 nearly a month before its scheduled ending on May 31. (About $8 billion is still available through a set-aside for community financial institutions, which generally focus on lending to businesses run by under-served communities.)

As of May 16, the SBA approved over $266 billion in loans to over 6 million businesses nationwide. In New Hampshire, more than 16,000 businesses have received $1.14 billion in loans, for an average of $71,000.

Counting the first round, more than 87,000 New Hampshire businesses have so far received total of over $7 billion in PPP funding.

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