By Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

(CBM) – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is currently accepting applications to provide emergency assistance to restaurants and bars.

U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) was an original co-sponsor of the proposal to create the lifeline for restaurants and she advocated for its inclusion in the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

“Black and minority-owned restaurants and businesses, as well as women and veteran-owned restaurants and businesses, have been hit hardest by this pandemic,” Lee said in a written statement. “I’m pleased that the SBA will prioritize applications for restaurants in economically or socially disadvantaged communities in the first three weeks of the grant program.”

The $28.6 billion restaurant relief legislation was signed into law as part of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion ARP.

Just 7% of U.S. businesses before the coronavirus pandemic were Black-owned, according to data from compiled by the University of California Santa Cruz study last year. In contrast, about 13% of the United States population is Black, and about 13% of restaurant employees are Black, according to federal data.

The SBA relief fund portal began accepting applications on Friday, April 30 at 6:00 a.m., Pacific Standard Time. In preparation for the grant program’s opening, the SBA released detailed guidance for those seeking relief money through the restaurant revitalization fund.

The SBA has tapped Lendistry, a Southern California-based lending firm, to help administer the restaurant relief funds. The Black-led and operated firm is the largest minority-led firm that has been disbursing both federal and state COVID relief money in California.

The 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 the funds are used for eligible purposes no later than March 11, 2023.

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman stated that the visionary leadership of congressional Democrats “laid the groundwork” for the SBA to deliver targeted relief swiftly and efficiently to the millions of small business owners and workers in restaurants.

“We’ve designed the Restaurant Revitalization Fund program to ensure this relief is delivered with a focus on equity. America’s small businesses are the engine of our economy,” Guzman said. “If we’re going to build back better, we must ensure all of our nation’s entrepreneurs have the tools they need to bring businesses back, create jobs and grow our economy.”

Lee encouraged restaurant owners across California to submit applications.

“I encourage all business owners that need funding to cover food costs, payroll, or any other business expenses to apply for this grant,” Lee stated. “My office is here to help you through this process.”

For information about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, detailed guidance, and how to apply, visit https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/restaurant-revitalization-fund

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