Open for business

A sign from the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce along East Main Street in Hermiston advises shoppers that businesses are open on Nov. 20, 2020.

State and federal COVID-19 relief legislation will present more grant opportunities to businesses in April.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is a $28.6 billion grant fund created by the American Rescue Plan, the latest federal stimulus package. The Small Business Administration has not named a specific date yet for applications to begin, but has said it expects to open the application period sometime in April.

According to the SBA, the fund will provide tax-free federal grants to restaurants, bars, food trucks and other eateries to cover their losses caused by COVID-19 and related restrictions since February 2020. The list of eligible items for the grant money to be spent on includes payroll, rent or mortgage, utilities, food and beverages, cleaning supplies, paid sick leave and expenses related to creating outdoor dining areas. Publicly traded companies or those with more than 20 restaurants are not eligible.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging restaurant owners to prepare now, before the grant period opens, by registering with the federal System of Award Management and preparing documentation of gross revenues for 2019 compared to 2020. More information can be found at restaurantsact.com.

On April 8, the Small Business Administration also expects to open applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators grant, for venues affected by COVID-19.

Qualifying entities include event venue operators, theatrical producers, live performing arts organizations, movie theaters, museums and more. For organizations in operation before January 2019, grant awards will be for 45% of gross revenues from 2019 or $10 million, whatever is less. More information is available at sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/shuttered-venue- operators-grant.

Business Oregon just closed its first round of applications for the Commercial Rent Relief Grant, but expects to open up another application period in mid-April. The grant is available to help commercial landlords and small business owners by providing rent money for tenants with fewer than 100 employees that have fallen behind on their rent payments because of the pandemic.

More information can be found at oregon4biz.com/Coronavirus-Information/CRR.

Locally, chambers of commerce, the Umatilla Electric Cooperative Business Resource Center in Hermiston and the Blue Mountain Community College’s Small Business Development Center can provide additional information to area businesses interested in pursuing state and federal grants.

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