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Restaurants: Free help is available in applying for federal aid; what you need to know

Jay Pasquarella (Lucia’s on the Lake), Joe Jerge (Mulberry Italian Ristorante), Congressman Brian Higgins, Dennis DiPaolo, Sue McCartney (Buffalo State), and Ilio DiPaolo stand at a Friday press conference at Ilio DiPaolo’s.";s:

Hand sanitizer, disinfectant, plexiglass, and more, it all adds up and in a very big way. Small businesses, especially restaurants, have had to play a balancing act between the decreased revenue and increasing costs due to COVID-19.

The good news is there is relief coming from the federal government. The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization grant program was included in the American Rescue Plan.

However, as the director of Buffalo State’s Small Business Development center told WBFO, based on how previous relief programs have gone, restaurants will need to get ahead of the application opening.

“The challenge has been, and the frustration for the entrepreneurs, is the short timeline to, in effect, compete to secure these dollars, this funding. It's difficult, and the programs ultimately run out of money," said Susan McCartney.

McCartney works with business owners at no cost to them, to create the document packages needed to apply to these programs. 

While the application is not yet available, McCartney urges people not to wait until it is available to start gathering their application materials.

Restaurants who want to know more about this funding and how to apply can get ahead by contacting the small business development center or attending a virtual webinar hosted by the center on April 19.

Here's who to contact and how to sign up for the webinar:

Congressman Brian Higgins held a press conference on Friday with local restaurant owners to emphasize the importance of the program and encourage businesses to apply.
"[The program is] to help them stabilize, to help them recover, from losses that were of no fault of their own. They work hard every single day. They care about their customers. They care about their communities, and we have an obligation as Congress and the federal government to help them," Higgins told WBFO by phone later that day.

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