U.S. Small Business Administration grant program closer to opening, owners can prepare to apply

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The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant is a $15 billion program that aims to help operators impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. At least $2 billion is set aside for small venue operators that have fewer than 50 employees. The grant amounts will vary, depending on when a business began operations, but operators will likely receive up to 45% of their pre-pandemic gross received revenue, or $10 million, whichever is less. The program is still being finalized, including the application date, which is likely to be in early April. Operators should check www.sba.gov/coronavirusrelief for more information.

“We are updating that page frequently as more details are finalized and clarified, including the date that we will begin accepting applications, as we are not doing so yet,” Barb Carson, deputy associate administrator of the SBA’s Office of Disaster Administration, said at an online presentation on Tuesday, March 30.

Under the program, live entertainment venues, movie theaters, theatrical producers, museums and other operators are able to apply for grant funding. To prepare for the application, those businesses need to create a SAM.gov account. The System for Award Management is a federal government website, and registration is free.

Business owners need to pull together their financial information for the application. Businesses in operation before Jan. 1, 2019, will receive 45% of gross earned revenue. Operators who started after that time must calculate the average of monthly gross revenue for each month they were in operation in 2019, then multiply that figure by six.

Businesses that have applied for an SBA EIDL loan are eligible to apply, as are those who took a first-draw PPP loan before Dec. 27, 2020. Those who took a PPP loan after that time will have the amount of the loan reduced from the grant.

Funds from the grant can be spent in a wide variety of ways, including rent, payroll, utilities, insurance, state and local taxes and fees and mortgage payments. Generally, the grant may not be used toward principal debt payments for mortgages and other debts incurred before Feb. 15, 2020.

Questions about the SVOG program can be emailed to [email protected].

SBA officials have not released finalized data for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $28 billion grant program for bars and restaurants that lost revenue due to the pandemic. Under that program, eating and drinking establishments would be able to receive up to $5 million per location, with a maximum of $10 million for multiple locations.

Still, those businesses can prepare by determining the amount they can receive, which is done by subtracting their 2020 revenue from 2019. Also, those establishments need to set up a SAM.gov account, as well as obtain a DUNS number, a nine-digit number used to identify businesses.

The application period for PPP loans has been extended until the end of May, but Eric Giltner, senior area manager for the SBA office in Grand Forks, is cautioning those who apply for second-draw loans to make sure losses they have sustained are due to the pandemic. Borrowers need to show a 25% reduction in receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020. Losses not connected to the pandemic cannot be covered by a PPP loan, Giltner said.