Protect the hospitality industry and workers

| 07 Aug 2020 | 02:49

Editor’s note: On Aug. 5, Matt Cartwright (PA-08) called for stronger relief for hospitality industry businesses and workers to be included in the next coronavirus aid legislation. He was was joined in a virtual meeting by Justin Genzlinger, CEO, Settlers Hospitality Group; Cathy Kutchi, Manager, Carmen’s Bakery & Deli; Jean-Luc Vitiello, owner, Pocono Brewery; Rob Friedman, owner, Friedman Hospitality Group; and Patrick and Bill Nasser, owners, Backyard Ale House.

Restaurants, hospitality and tourism are not just essential to Northeastern Pennsylvania’s economy, they’re core parts of the social and cultural fabric of our area. Unfortunately, we know our restaurants and their employees have been among the hardest hit by the global pandemic. That’s why it’s so important for us to come together to provide support to both the restaurants and the hardworking Americans they employ. The Restaurants Act and business aid provisions in the Heroes Act offer hope for meaningful relief for these struggling businesses, and they should be enacted as part of the next coronavirus bill as soon as possible.

The Heroes Act includes improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a small business loan program primarily designed to help employers keep employees on payroll. These improvements would support the hospitality industry in the following ways:

Extending the loan “covered period” end date from June 30, 2020, to December 31, 2020;

Loan forgiveness reductions will be “held harmless” for some employers who can show an inability to rehire or find “similarly qualified” employees before December; and

Authorizing an additional $10 billion in grants to small businesses that have suffered financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Restaurants Act creates a new $120 billion grant program to provide structured relief to restaurants through 2020.

The program will be administered by the Department of the Treasury and available to food service or drinking establishments, including caterers, that are not publicly traded or part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name;

Grant values will cover the difference between revenues from 2019 and projected revenues through 2020;

Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan funding recipients must subtract funds received that do not need to be paid back from the maximum Restaurant Stabilization Grant value;

Restaurant Stabilization Grants do not need to be paid back and funding is made available through 2020;

Eligible expenses include: payroll (not including employee compensation exceeding $100,000/year), benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials), food, debt obligations to suppliers, and any other expenses deemed essential by the Secretary of the Treasury;

Recipients must certify that current economic conditions make the grant request necessary, that the funds will be used retain workers, maintain payroll, and make other payments (as specified above), and that the recipient is only applying for and would only receive one grant;

If a restaurant permanently ceases operations before the end of 2020, unspent funds must be returned. If the grant award exceeds the actual end-of-year revenues the grant is converted to a loan with a 10-year term at 1% interest;

The first 14 days of funds will only be made available to restaurants with annual revenues of $1.5 million or less to target local small restaurants, particularly those that are women, veteran, or minority-owned and operated eligible entities that are owned or operated by women or people of color; and

The Restaurant Stabilization Act provides $300 million to administer the program – $60 million of which is set-aside for outreach to traditionally marginalized and underrepresented communities, with a focus on women, veteran, and minority-owned and operated eligible entities.

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08)

Lake Ariel

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright is a member of House Democratic Leadership and the House Committee on Appropriations. He serves as Vice Chair of the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee and is a member of the Financial Services & General Government and Military Construction-VA Appropriations Subcommittees. He also serves on the Committee on Natural Resources. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District includes Lackawanna, Wayne, and Pike Counties, and portions of Luzerne and Monroe Counties.