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Restaurants and Bars Rush to Apply for New Federal Aid Program

  • May 06, 2021

“They’re woven into the fabric of our communities,” the president added.

He described the battered industry as one of the best paths for many people to achieve the American dream. “One in three Americans, a restaurant provided their first job,” Mr. Biden said. “More than half of all Americans have worked in a restaurant at some point in their lives.”

But for now, the relief the administration is offering falls far short of what is necessary to stabilize the decimated industry.

A group of owners of small food businesses who lobbied for the funds have contended that $120 billion is needed to stabilize independent restaurants. And Mr. Biden said on Wednesday that he expected the current fund to be able to help about 100,000 restaurants and other eligible businesses — fewer than those that already applied in the first 48 hours of the website being operational.

“We know that the $28.6 billion is not enough to meet the demand,” Isabella Casillas Guzman, the small business administrator, said last week. “However, we need to demonstrate that demand, and we need to encourage everyone to apply and access this fund as much as possible and demonstrate what remaining need is out there.”

For the first 21 days, the Small Business Administration will approve claims only from businesses that are majority-owned by women, veterans or people who qualify as both socially and economically disadvantaged.

Mr. Biden said 97,600 of the applications received in the program’s first two days had come from businesses owned by people who fell into those categories. High demand for the funds, however, was not necessarily a good thing for a program that has limited funding and will have to turn many needy businesses away.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the administration would be open to seeking more funding from Congress, but she offered no specifics. Mr. Biden said the high demand should prove to skeptics that the program was a necessity.

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