New Hampshire’s new Hotels and Lodging Relief Program launches
$10 million fund seeks to aid hard-hit, ‘critical’ industry
New Hampshire’s new state-run $10 million Hotels and Lodging Relief Program that goes live June 22 will work like a “mini” Main Street Program, which last year provided help to Covid-affected Granite State businesses, according to Business and Economic Affairs Commissioner Taylor Caswell.
But this time, the Department of Revenue Administration uses actual, not projected, drops in revenue, “and that keeps us away from all the recoupment stuff,” said Caswell, who’s also executive director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Relief and Recovery. He was referring to the Main Street program’s original requirement to claw back funds from businesses that were determined not to need all of the help.
“The federal government did one for restaurants,” explained Gov. Chris Sununu in announcing the program’s kickoff June 17. “We’re doing a similar program specifically around hotels and lodging, as they’re so critical to our travel and tourism and hospitality industry, which is so strong here in New Hampshire,”
It’s not yet known how much New Hampshire restaurants received through the $28.6 billion U.S. Small Business Administration Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which expired May 24. Many restaurants say they haven’t gotten any money yet, and the SBA has yet release state specific data.
But Congress did not set up a program to help hotels, although both hotels and restaurants got more generous forgivable loans under the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program.
And hotels have arguably fared worse during the pandemic, exceeding restaurants went it came to the percentage of laid-off workers. This was particularly true for hotels that primarily served business travel, and industry that, unlike tourism, did not bounce back last summer and this spring.
“Business travel is still way, way behind,” said Steve Duprey, owner of five hotels and a conference center in the Concord region.
The amount of assistance a hotel can receive under the state program will be determined by subtracting the hotel’s revenue from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 from its revenue in the previous year, before the pandemic, minus any federal or state aid that the business might have received.
After the July 13 application deadline, the DRA will determine the total revenue drop and prorate individual hotel’s award size based on the amount available.
“I bet they will go through that $10 million pretty quickly,” said Duprey. “Our hotels alone lost that amount easily”.
Still, he added, “I’m extremely grateful for whatever the state can do. They are doing a terrific job with these programs.”
“This is a hugely important industry for the state,” said Mike Somers, president of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association. “A lot of programs targeted restaurants, but hotels were severely impacted and having some specific aid for them is both appropriate and timely.”