Federal stimulus payments and $300 per week in extra unemployment benefits are making it difficult for restaurants and other small businesses all across the nation to find people willing to work. Just this week, the Wichita Eagle reported that a new restaurant cannot open for lack of employees.
Restaurant owners say they are also being hurt by discriminatory practices of the Biden administration and Congress. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open. But the RRF administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) puts some small business owners at the back of the line, and the money may run out before their applications are processed.
The SBA isn’t accepting applications yet; officials told Congress it may take up to 30 days from ARPA’s March 25 signing to “ramp up.”
Priority will be given for the first 21 days to “small businesses owned by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”
Socially disadvantaged individuals are defined as “those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities.”
Economically disadvantaged individuals are “those socially disadvantaged individuals whose ability to compete in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities as compared to others in the same business area who are not socially disadvantaged.”
Beginning on day 22, applications will be accepted from restaurants being treated as second-class citizens until funds are exhausted.
Even restaurants with 50% women board members or with more than 70% of employees being minorities must go to the back of the line and hope the money doesn’t run out; they also have to hope they can stay open in the meanwhile.
Some restaurant owners say this reminds them of a quote by President Ronald Reagan.
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.”