Fay-Pen Economic Development Council is urging local restaurants and similar hospitality businesses to apply for available COVID-19 recovery programs.

“Both programs are designed to assist hospitality businesses whose revenues were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bob Shark, Fay-Penn executive director. “Businesses can apply to one or both programs as long as they meet the programs’ eligibility requirements.”

The first program is the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which is through the U.S. Small Business Administration, which opened for applications this week.

Shark said $28.6 billion was made available to RRF through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

“That program is intended to make grants available to for-profit businesses where patrons are served food or drink onsite,” Shark said.

Online applications remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted.

Shark said a restaurant can receive anywhere from $1,000 to $10 million from the RRP depending on their gross receipts in 2019 and 2020 and the number of different establishments they have.

Shark added that various eligibility requirements exist that any potential applicant needs to review.

“For example, the business cannot be permanently closed, be a nonprofit organization and not have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy,” he said, adding that the US Small Business Administration has a complete set of instructions on their RRP webpage. “Applicants will also need to compile various documents to submit with their applications, such as business tax returns.”

Shark said the RRP, in conjunction with other federal COVID-19 assistance programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program, has the ability to essentially make restaurants “whole” in terms of revenue lost due to the pandemic.

“Eligible businesses can essentially recoup all of their revenue decline from 2019 to 2020,” Shark said. “That’s a tremendous influx of cash to help the industry continue to survive until the pandemic wanes completely.”

For more information, visit sba.gov/restaurants

The other program is the second phase of the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP), which made $145 million in grants available to for-profit businesses that either served patrons food or drink onsite, or provided accommodations like hotels.

Shark said one major difference is that the CHIRP grants are to be used as a reimbursement for expenses already incurred, whereas the RRP grants can be used for both incurred expenses and future expenses through early March 2023.

Fay-Penn was selected in March to be the local economic development council to administer $1.4 million of CHIRP funds from a $145 million state-wide grant.

“Phase I of CHIRP for Fayette County was an eye-opener with regard to the amount of outreach Fay-Penn needed to do,” Shark said.

Fay-Penn complied a list of over 500 potential applicants from various sources and began a general information campaign through email blasts, social media posts, announcements to various civic and governmental groups and media coverage.

“However, we learned that individual outreach to businesses was also needed to cover all the bases, which resulted in direct contact with about 350 potential applicants,” Shark said, adding that he commends his staff for their tremendous effort to make CHIRP a success. “We’ve received numerous kudos from businesses for the support Fay-Penn provided to successfully complete their applications.”

Fay-Penn approved 74 businesses for grants ranging from $5,000 to $30,000.

He added that about a dozen applications weren’t approved either due to ineligibility or unresponsiveness to Fay-Penn’s requests for additional information needed to complete their application.

“Most of the $1.45 million that was allocated to Fayette County is being disbursed in Phase I,” Shark said. “We held a small amount of funds in reserve for Phase II to ensure everyone had the greatest opportunity to apply.”

Shark declined to say how much was left in reserve.

The deadline to apply for Phase II is May 12, and Shark said grant awards will more than likely be reduced depending on how many applications are received.

Those who received funding in the first phase cannot apply for funding in the second phase, Shark said.

Shark said those who received CHIRP funding looked at it as a “lifeboat” to help them keep their doors open until business and revenue returns to somewhat normal — something he hopes is rapidly approaching.

“Scores of Fayette County businesses got help to keep going, saving hundreds of Fayette County jobs,” Shark said.

Anyone in need of assistance with either program can contact Fay-Penn at info@faypenn.org or 724-437-7913.

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