Restaurants, food trades may now apply for relief


Restaurants and other food businesses in the Marianas that have been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic will now be able to apply for direct relief through the $28.6-billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund under the American Rescue Plan Act.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, which administers the program, began registrations last Friday, April 30, 2021, and will open the application period today, May 3, 2021, at noon, Eastern Standard Time. The online application will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted.

Entities eligible to apply include restaurants, caterers, bars, bakeries, and breweries. It will prioritize direct relief to women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and includes $9.5 billion in set-asides for smaller businesses.

Established under the American Rescue Plan, and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides a total of $28.6 billion in direct relief funds to restaurants and other hard-hit food establishments that have experienced economic distress and significant operational losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location.

Separately, in his e-kilili newsletter, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said this relief does not have to be repaid, provided that the funds are put toward eligible uses by March 11, 2023.

In preparation, the SBA recommends qualifying applicants familiarize themselves with the application process in advance to ensure a smooth and efficient application experience, specifically by:

Registering for an account at starting April 30, 2021.

Reviewing the official guidance, including program guide, frequently asked questions, and application sample.

Preparing the required documentation.

Working with a point-of-sale vendor or visiting to submit an application. [Note: If an applicant is working with a point-of-sale vendor, they do not need to register beforehand on the site.]

For the first 21 days that the program is open, SBA will prioritize funding applications from businesses owned and controlled by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. All eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications as soon as the portal opens. Following the 21 days, all eligible applications will be funded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Consistent with the legislation and the intent of Congress, the SBA continues to take steps to ensure the equitable distribution of relief, particularly for the smallest businesses, by creating a $9.5 billion set-aside: $5 billion for applicants with 2019 gross receipts of not more than $500,000; $4 billion is set aside for applicants with 2019 gross receipts from $500,001 to $1,500,000; and $500 million for applicants with 2019 gross receipts not more than $50,000.
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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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