Struggling RI Businesses Can Apply For Federal Relief Grants

CRANSTON, RI — More financial assistance is available for Rhode Island’s struggling restaurants. The state’s federal delegation announced $28.6 billion in grant funding, aimed at getting restaurants back on their feet.

The Rhode Island Hospitality Association urged all eligible business owners to apply for grant funding to help fill the financial gap of revenue lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding was included in the recently passed American Rescue Plan. Nationwide, applications are now open through the Small Business Administration.

“I’m proud to have helped make the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund a reality and pleased the SBA is finally accepting applications,” Sen. Jack Reed said. “I encourage all eligible Rhode Island restaurants and bars that were hit hard by the pandemic to apply and I will do everything I can to ensure these federal funds are allocated swiftly and equitably. “

More than 41,000 applications were submitted across the country in just the first few minutes of the website going live, Reed said, showing that “clearly the interest and need is there.”

For the first 21 days the applications are open, the fund will prioritize grant requests for businesses owned by women, veterans and those who are economically disadvantaged. In addition, $9.5 billion of the funded has been set aside specifically for small businesses.

“The Restaurant Revitalization Fund will have an immediate impact on Rhode Island’s hardest hit restaurants and will help boost the recovery of our local economy,” said Dale Venturini, President and CEO of the RI Hospitality Association. “The need for these grants is still very high and it’s likely the $28.6 billion will be depleted quickly, and so we urge restaurant owners to act swiftly and apply as soon as possible, and ask Rhode Island’s federal delegation to continue to fight for additional funding.”

Here are a few things for business owners to know when applying for grant funding:

According to the National Restaurant Association, sales in restaurants and the food service industry were down about 40 percent from March to December 2020. During that same period, staffing levels were down about 20 percent. In December, 47 percent of surveyed business owners said they were considering closing down until the end of the pandemic, while another 45 percent said they were “doubtful” they could stay in business another six months if they stayed open.

“Rhode Island’s world-class restaurants have responded to the evolving challenges of COVID-19 with patience and creativity,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said. “The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is now open to help independent restaurants cover some of the costs and losses they’ve incurred as a result, and to keep Rhode Islanders on the payroll.”