In a meeting facilitated by Saipan Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Administration in Guam outlined in a virtual meeting yesterday what the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is and how eligible CNMI businesses can qualify for this assistance.
SBA branch manager Kenneth Lujan told participants in the virtual meeting that the American Rescue Plan Act that became public law last month has appropriated $28.6 billion for this purpose—to provide emergency assistance to restaurants, bars and other qualifying businesses that experienced business and revenue loss from the economic downturn due to COVID19.
“[Restaurant Revitalization Fund]-eligible entitles are businesses that are not permanently closed and its primary business purpose is to serve food or drink,” he said.
The program aims to 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. Since the RRF is not a loan, recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses.
SSC president Joe Guerrero is hopeful about the RRF because restaurants and bars across the nation as well as the territories were some of hardest hit by the pandemic. “The RRF…will bring much needed relief. It will allow those qualified to reinvest in their business, keep people employed to at least pre-pandemic levels, and provide a safety net for the next year as restaurants and bars still operate through the next 12 months,” he said.
According to Lujan, as with any of their SBA programs, U.S. citizens and green card holders are eligible applicants but he will clarify later if business owners that fit another category can qualify. “Application is ongoing during this ‘pilot period.’ During this period, participants will be randomly selected from existing PPP borrowers who self-identified as members of priority groups. Pilot participants will not receive funds until RRF is open to the public at a later application launch,” he said.
A priority period of 21 days will be set aside for applicants from small businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged and will be funded during this period. Any reorganization of an entity for the purpose of qualifying for the priority period will result in automatic disqualification of the award.
“On Day 22, all eligible applications will be processed and funded until program funds are exhausted,” he added.
As for the amount of potential fund that each applicant will be awarded, Lujan said that it depends on which calculation applicants qualify for, with PPP loans deducted from the potential award. “…We try to avoid double dipping, that is why we subtract Payroll Protection Program loans incurred. …Applicants cannot also apply for RRF if their PPP is still pending. …Documents needed are a completed, initialed and signed SBA Form 3172, IRS From 4506-T, completed and signed by applicant and gross receipts documentation. …I highly recommend that applicants know what documents they need to be ready with to be able to provide the right information and not incur delay. …The faster we get the information in, the faster applicants get the funding,” he said.
Right now, the application portal is not open yet. But to obtain more information, contact CNMI Small Business Development Center director Nicole Babauta at (670) 234-5498 Ext 6888.