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U.S. approves $55 billion support for SMEs, restaurants

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill last week that calls for $55 billion to replenish a small business grant programme. 

The bill, HR 3807, aims to help small businesses in America hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The grant programme was part of the American Rescue Plan. Restaurants, food trucks, wineries, breweries, and bakeries will receive $42 billion of the $55 billion. The remaining $13 billion would go to small businesses like gyms, event venues, theatres, transportation contractors, and sports teams. A portion of the $13 billion would be set aside for grant administration.

Small businesses are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic. Still, inflation, supply chain issues, and even a continuing labour shortage have been added to the mix. For these business owners, this means operating with fewer resources while attempting to retain customers. 

“The pandemic inflicted deep wounds on small firms across the country, and many of these businesses are still struggling today. My office hears from small businesses every day. They have made it abundantly clear that they need more relief,” said House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY). 

“This bill will deliver long-awaited aid to hundreds of thousands of restaurants and other small businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. The sooner this bill is signed into law, the sooner these businesses can begin to move forward and advance our recovery.”

The Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022 will also include the following provisions: 

  • Provide $13 billion to establish the Hard Hit Industries Award Program, which will help small businesses with 200 or fewer employees that have lost 40percent or more of their revenue. 
  • To give entertainment venues more time and flexibility in using federal relief funds, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program has been updated. 
  • Use recovered funds from fraud cases to offset programme funding in pandemic relief programmes. 
  • Deliver a total of $30 million to the SBA Inspector General, the Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force, and the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to further investigate and recover fraudulent funds.

All about HR 3807

This bill provides assistance to restaurants, arts and entertainment venues, and small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It adds $42 billion to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund in FY2021 and prioritises previous applicants who have not received a grant. The Small Business Administration (SBA) must explain denied applications to applicants, establish a reconsideration process for denied applications, and implement an audit and oversight plan for grant recipients. 

In addition, the bill creates the Hard Hit Industries Award Program for small businesses that experienced a 40 per cent or greater revenue loss due to the pandemic. The total grant amount is limited to $1 million. Expenses such as a mortgage, rent, utility payments, and payroll may be covered by the funds. 

How will the grant programme work?

We already know that the waiting list is extensive – there were approximately 300,000 applicants for the original programme, with only about one-third receiving grants. Some of the application rejections were due to misunderstandings. 

Women, minorities, and Veterans-owned businesses were prioritised during the first round of small business grants in the American Rescue Plan. However, after many discrimination lawsuits were filed, many applicants had their grants rescinded. 

If your application had been rescinded, rejected, or never applied, you would apply via an SBA approved lender. You’ll need to be able to document the dollar amount of your lost revenue.

The Small Business Administration would oversee the grant program and handle the funds. Grant amounts could be as much as $10 million per business (or $5 million for each physical location).

Here’s more on the programme

Source: https://smallbusiness.house.gov/news/

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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