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Know Someone Who Owns a Restaurant?

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Restaurants in Alaska can get a boost in coronavirus relief funds starting next week. The Small Business Administration is taking applications starting Monday -- but wants restaurants to sign up tomorrow. The money comes from federal legislation from the American Rescue Plan.

The Small Business Administration says there are 27,820 Alaska workers in food service and accommodations.

“72 % of Alaska food service jobs are from small businesses.”

That’s Steven Brown, Director of the Alaska District Office for the Small Business Administration. He says the SBA assumes every one of those workers was affected in some way in the ongoing pandemic, and more likely in small businesses than corporations.

“In good times, restaurant ownership is a difficult thing. It’s hard to have a cushion, a financial cushion in a restaurant, especially a mom and pop. And so, 30 days of no business or cash flow is devastating.”

Brown’s office is getting ready to hand out some pandemic relief money to some of the food service industry – the thousands of restaurants in Alaska. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund came out of the American Rescue Plan Act and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11. It is a grant, not a loan, and does not need to be paid back. The smallest amount is $1,000, the largest is $5 million.

It is for restaurants that lost money in the pandemic, but also for food trucks, caterers, bars, tasting rooms, distilleries, and bakeries.

“Registration starts Friday 5:00 AM Alaska time. In order to make sure that it’s as fair as possible, they’re opening it up to everybody at the same time. That begins at 5:00 AM Alaska time on Friday, April 30, and then the application process opens Monday, May 3rd at 8:00 AM Alaska time.”?

The registration process is giving some background information about the business and makes the application process go faster – and less likely to overwhelm the system. That happened earlier this month for another pandemic relief program.

“The participation was so great that it collapsed the system.”

But Brown thinks having business pre-register will prevent problems.

 “They’ve been doing a massive amount of testing, making sure that the system is capable.”

Brown wants applicants to get their paperwork together and read up on the program now.

“The main resource is SBA.gov/restaurants. The details are all right there.”

Brown says he doesn’t know how many food business might apply, but the Alaska District Office for the SBA is putting on twice-weekly webinars about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

“We do one on Monday at 10 a.m. and Thursdays at 3:30. But that’s located at SBA.gov/AK

For the first 21 days that the program is open, the SBA will prioritize businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. After that, applications will be processed in the order they came in.

Businesses will have two years to spend the money.