O’Connor: OKC working hard to support food, beverage industryPublished: Wednesday, May 5, 2021 By: Cathy O'Connor Source: The Journal Record
Good news for the food and beverage industry. On Monday, the SBA opened applications for its new Restaurant Revitalization Fund. It will provide $28.6 billion to offset COVID-related revenue losses by restaurants, bakeries, bars, breweries, food trucks and caterers across the country. Funds can be used to help with payroll, insurance, mortgage or rent, utilities, construction of outdoor seating and other business operating expenses.
For those in the food and beverage industry, it’s a lifeline to help maintain the business and keep the doors open, with awards between $1,000 and $5 million per location for businesses with 20 or fewer locations. The program has set aside funds for smaller businesses and the application process gives a three-week prioritization period to small businesses that are at least 51% owned and controlled by women, veterans or those who are socially or economically disadvantaged.
We’re encouraging our local food and beverage businesses to apply. In Oklahoma City our small, locally owned restaurants contribute some of the best dining experiences and are a significant factor in the culture, heritage and unique experiences found in our neighborhoods and districts. They also contribute to the vibrancy and attraction for visitors and residents alike.
In the last 10 years, we’ve experienced a proliferation of high-quality, unique restaurant and bar concepts and they’ve been highly successful. We’ve seen the beer brewery industry gain traction across the state. During the pandemic, food trucks visited neighborhoods as a way to reach out to new customers. Many business owners have been creative about providing services in a different way and made tough choices to stay open, fighting to keep their workers employed.
Many organizations have helped spread the word to their members about the new relief program: the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Black Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber, the Oklahoma Restaurant Association and many others. You can help too. We all have favorite restaurants, bars, bakeries and delis. Share the information with the owner and encourage them to apply. It could mean your favorite spot emerges a little stronger, a little sooner.
We’ve established a phone line, 405-456-9351, and an online request for restaurants to get local help with the application at http://bit.ly/OKrestaurantSBAhelp. And applications can be found on the SBA site at www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/restaurant-revitalization-fund.
Cathy O’Connor is president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.