WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the release of $83 million dollars in unobligated Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grants to 169 operators with pending applications.
The National Restaurant Association has been requesting these funds be released, and Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Sean Kennedy released the following statement in response:
"The SBA's action represents the final chapter of our nearly three-year effort to secure dedicated federal pandemic relief dollars for local restaurants. Today's announcement is great news for those 169 operators fortunate enough to receive an RRF grant, but hundreds of thousands more are struggling with uncertainty.
"We must continue to look forward because the enormous challenges of the industry will continue beyond today. From the recruitment of employees to the constantly rising costs for food, running a restaurant right now is a daily struggle. There are steps the government can take to support restaurants in every community, and we will continue to press for solutions at the federal, state, and local level."
According to the SBA, the grants are being released to operators in the order their applications were received. Operators receiving funds should receive notification today and SBA will begin transmitting the grants next week. They have until March 2023 to spend the money.
The Association was first to lay out the plan for a restaurant industry recovery fund to Congress in April 2020. Congress eventually set aside $28.6 billion dollars for the RRF in the American Rescue Plan Act. After this money was distributed, more than 177,000 applications were left in limbo at the SBA.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report in July, noting SBA was holding unobligated RRF funds and the Association was first to send a letter to SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman requesting that the unobligated money be released to unfunded applicants.
The restaurant industry was the hardest hit by the pandemic. In the initial shutdowns, more than eight million industry employees were laid off or furloughed. The industry still has not recreated 565,000 jobs lost at that time, which is the largest current employment deficit caused by the pandemic among all U.S. industries. More than 90,000 restaurants closed permanently or long-term because of the pandemic.
About the National Restaurant Association
Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises nearly 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 14.5 million employees. Together with 52 State Associations, we are a network of professional organizations dedicated to serving every restaurant through advocacy, education, and food safety. We sponsor the industry's largest trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart). For more information, visit Restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants
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SOURCE National Restaurant Association