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Effort to refund federal Restaurant Revitalization program is underway

Nearly 60 restaurants in the Worcester area received a total of $13 million in aid from the Small Business Administration's Restaurant Revitalization Fund. 

There are still thousands more who are still hoping that they can get the same kind of help. 

“It was enormously successful," Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) said. "So successful, in fact, that it ran out of money."

Nationwide, the SBA said that it distributed $28.6 billion to more than 100,000 bars and restaurants as part of the program.

The fund was created as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed in March 2020. It was created to help restaurants and bars that were financially struggling as a result of the pandemic. 

There were another 177,000 establishments, however, that applied for aid but did not get help because the initiative ran out of funding. 

“Restaurants have taken advantage of PPP and other forms aid and loans. Of course, there's been a number of Massachusetts grants that happened but the RRF is truly the most valuable and two-thirds of applicants in Massachusetts were not funded,” said Steve Clark, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

Within days of learning that the Restaurant Revitalization Fund was out of money, lawmakers from across the country and from both sides of the aisle came together to draft the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act. It would provide another $60 billion to bars and restaurants in need.

According to the bill, it would be funded using money from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill passed in March 2020.

“I want that to happen and it should happen and I expect that we will address the issue,” Rep. Neal said. 

Despite the support, there’s been no movement on the legislation since this past summer.

Now Neal and eight other members of the Massachusetts delegation in Congress are among a growing number of legislators pushing the issue once again.

They penned a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck and asked them to make the Replenishment Act a top priority.

Congressman Jim McGovern told Spectrum News 1 that, with the colder weather coming, his constituents will need that help more than ever. 

“It gets cold in the winter. Nobody wants to sit out in the cold parking lot in the winter so those restaurants, especially in the Northeast and in states that have colder climates they suffer disproportionately,” Rep. McGovern said. 

A source at the Small Business Administration told Spectrum News 1 that it would have no problem restarting the program on short notice.

They added that as long as the funding is secured,  the SBA already has the infrastructure in place to get the money out to those who need it.

Full coverage HERE.

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