The federal government is preparing to open two new industry-specific small business relief programs, one of them months in the works, as its signature pandemic aid effort, the Paycheck Protection Program, nears its end.
The Small Business Administration said it hopes to start taking applications by the end of this week for a $16 billion grant fund for live event businesses like theaters and music clubs. The program, called the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, was supposed to begin nearly two weeks ago, but its application system malfunctioned and collapsed, stymieing thousands of desperate businesses that have been waiting months for the promised aid.
On Saturday, the agency posted additional details on its forthcoming Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $28.6 billion support program for bars, restaurants and food trucks whose sales were devastated by the forced shutdowns that states imposed in response to the pandemic. The fund was created as part of last month’s $1.9 trillion economic support package. Within the next two weeks, it will begin a seven-day test intended to help the agency avoid the kind of technical fiasco that plagued the venue program.
The agency has not announced a specific start date for either grant program.
“Help is here,” Isabella Casillas Guzman, the agency’s administrator, said of the restaurant program. “We’re rolling out this program to make sure that these businesses can meet payroll, purchase supplies and get what they need in place to transition to today’s Covid-restricted marketplace.”
webinar last week organized by the Independent Restaurant Coalition. Lawmakers projected at least $120 billion in demand for the restaurant fund, Mr. Kelley said, but provided money for less than a quarter of that amount.
The law creating the restaurant fund required a 21-day exclusive period for businesses that are majority-owned by women, veterans or socially disadvantaged individuals. The S.B.A. said that group includes those who are Black and Hispanic, as well as Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans and South Asian Americans.
That period alone will almost certainly exhaust the restaurant fund. Applicants will be asked to self-certify their eligibility for the priority period, the Small Business Administration said.
Participants in the fund’s seven-day pilot period will be picked randomly from current Paycheck Protection Program borrowers who meet the priority period criteria, the agency said. They will help test the system but will not receive grant money until the application system opens publicly.