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Grant money available to restaurants, bars from American Rescue Plan Act

NATCHEZ — Restaurants, bars, and other qualifying businesses impacted by COVID-19 are now able to fill out applications to determine if they are eligible for substantial grant money from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, part of the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which is dispersed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, is providing $28.6 billion in grants to restaurants and bars in need.

Applicants could receive between $1,000 and $5 million depending on their need.

John Parks, owner of Pearl Street Pasta, 100 Main and Magnolia Grill, estimated that in 2020 each of his restaurants earned half of what they did in the prior year due to COVID-19.

“We’re staffing up now and this will be a big help with getting new staff and also with retaining the staff we have,” Parks said. “This is a lifeline for a lot of restaurants in the area.”

Natchez Adams County Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Hudson said many business owners such as Parks, Mike Wagner at The Camp, Sharon Brown at the Natchez Coffee Company, and Pat and Lisa Miller at the Brewing Company have worked hard to stay in business during COVID-19.

“I’ve been really proud of our restaurants as they’ve had to find ways to make things work during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “Hopefully this will give them the support they need.”

Peyton Cavin, CPA with Silas Simmons, said he has been assisting local restaurant and bar owners with filling out applications since they became available on Monday.

Cavin said Silas Simmons has processed at least 20 applications from the Adams County area since Monday.

“It’s a great thing for our area,” he said of the applications, which could possibly turn into relief funds. “We’re seeing some very large numbers on the applications that we’ve processed. Some are well into six figure grants.”

However, grants are not guaranteed to those who apply.

During the first 22 days of the application period, SBA will accept applications from all eligible applicants but only process and fund “priority group” applications — where the applicant has self-certified that it meets the eligibility requirements for a small business owned by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

After this period has passed, other applications are considered in the order they are received, Cavin said.

“We’re helping out anyone that wants assistance. The application process opened yesterday and it will run until the funds are depleted,” Cavin said, adding the earlier businesses apply, the better chance they have at receiving funds.

Eligible applicants include businesses that are not permanently closed and where the public gathers for the primary purpose of being served food or drink. Also, bakeries, brewpubs, breweries, tasting rooms, taprooms, wineries, and inns are eligible as long as they can provide proof that their on-site sales to the public comprise at least 33 percent of gross receipts.

The funding awarded must be utilized for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023, and can be used for payroll costs, including paid sick leave; payments of principal or interest on mortgage obligations; rent payments, including rent under a lease agreement; utilities; maintenance, including new outdoor seating constructions; supplies, including PPE and cleaning materials; food and beverage inventory; covered supplier costs; and operational expenses.

Applicants will need to provide documentation showing the loss of income in 2020 compared to 2019, including tax returns, financial statements, or bank statements.

Applications can be filled out at sba.gov.

For assistance, contact Peyton C. Cavin, CPA at 601-442-7411 or email peyton.cavin@silassimmons.com.

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