Businesses rush to apply for Restaurant Revitalization Fund

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The webinar was hosted by the Guam Chamber of Commerce, Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, US Small Business Administration (Guam branch), the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and Guam SBDC. (PNC video capture)

The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) opened at 2 am today Guam time to begin accepting grant applications.

Kenneth Q. Lujan, branch manager for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Guam Branch Office, said the RRF application period actually opened earlier in the mainland but Guam encountered some technical problems.

“On Saturday, two days ago, we encountered some difficulties. Area codes 671 for Guam and 670 within the CNMI were not recognized within the system. But that was quickly resolved. And so everyone had the opportunity to register this morning as of 2 am,” Lujan said during a webinar.

The webinar was hosted by the Guam Chamber of Commerce, Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, US Small Business Administration (Guam branch), the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and Guam SBDC.

Although Lujan didn’t have Guam-specific application numbers, he did say that nationally, 150,000 applications were already received within the first three hours of the portal being opened.

“And so that has created a big surge in the system. And we’ve noticed some slowing down, but we were able to resolve that,” Lujan said.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides emergency assistance for eligible restaurants, bars, and other qualifying businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open. This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.

SBA may provide funding up to $5 million per location, not to exceed $10 million total for the applicant and any affiliated businesses. The minimum award is $1,000.

Eligible entities who have experienced pandemic-related revenue loss include: Restaurants; Food stands, food trucks, food carts; Caterers; Bars, saloons, lounges, taverns; Snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars; Bakeries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts); Brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts); Breweries and/or microbreweries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts); Wineries and distilleries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts); Inns (onsite sales of food and beverage to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts); and Licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products

Funds may be used for specific expenses including:

Business payroll costs (including sick leave)
Payments on any business mortgage obligation
Business rent payments (note: this does not include prepayment of rent)
Business debt service (both principal and interest; note: this does not include any prepayment of principal or interest)
Business utility payments
Business maintenance expenses
Construction of outdoor seating
Business supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials)
Business food and beverage expenses (including raw materials)
Covered supplier costs
Business operating expenses

“So it’s been a very exciting morning for the SBA. Keep in mind that although the $2.8 billion will remain available until March 11, 2023, the fund can be expended much sooner than that because of the great number of applications. It’s a first-come, first-served basis so submit your application as soon as possible,” Lujan said.

Guam Chamber of Commerce president Catherine Castro said: “We are pleased to see this finally come to fruition so that companies like yours can avail of the relief you need to continue to operate your business. Thank you for everything that you do to support our local community.”

GHRA president Mary Rhodes said: “We’re very grateful for the National Restaurant Association, as a member of NRA, they’ve really taken the lead in securing this fund through the American rescue plan. And so this grant, which is available as a grant, you don’t have to have to pay it back, will help sustain the future for a lot of businesses as we rebuild this economy.”

Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce Laura Nelson Cepeda said: “I’d like to just give gratitude to all of you in this industry, I believe you are the unsung heroes of our pandemic. So don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any assistance It’s just nice to see the community come together and work to reopen our economy.”

Jane Kwok, associate network director for Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center Network, said: “The Guam SBDC is here to help you and support you when you’re going through this process. Just remember that our counseling service is free. So if you have any questions and you would like to have some help, you can come to us.”

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