Calling it a “last gasp” of federal CARES Act funding, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has announced the creation of two grant programs totaling $12 million to help Marion County restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.
The city says the Hospitality, Establishment, Lifeline Payment grants will assist hospitality establishments with rent or mortgage payments from April through December. Each business would be eligible for a $25,000 HELP grant.
“These places and their staff have always been there for us in times of friendship, celebration, and more,” said Hogsett. “This ongoing health crisis now requires us to do everything we can to return that favor.”
The mayor also announced the formation of a $1 million grant program to help restaurants to continue outdoor seating arrangements into the winter months by reimbursing businesses up to $2,500 for purchases of outdoor heaters, canopies and furniture.
The latest public health order allows Marion County restaurants and bars to allow for 100% outdoors seating capacity.
“Outdoor seating continues to be the safest route for restaurants, bars and venues. We want to help establishments make any adjustments they can to keep this practice going,” said Hogsett, who acknowledged Indiana winters can make outdoor seating difficult.
Any Marion County-based restaurant or bar that pays food and beverage taxes and has been adversely impacted by the pandemic-related restrictions may start applying on October 15.
Hogsett says $2.5 million of the $11 million HELP fund has been set aside for hospitality businesses that are women, minority, disabled, or veteran-owned.
“This will be a direct lifeline,” said Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association chief executive officer Patrick Tamm. ‘It’ll keep thousands of people the potential for employment during a time period where we anticipate the next six months be much harder than the past six.”
Tamm said 65% of restaurant costs are fixed, such as rent.
“When you’re at reduced capacity. But yet you have your fixed costs remaining the same. It’s a simple math game,” said Tamm.
The mayor also called out Congress for not passing any additional emergency funding in response to the pandemic.
“We know that this program isn’t nearly enough, but it’s been six months since any industry relief was approved by Congress,” said Hogsett. “While we’ve been thoughtful in the distribution of our local dollars, this program represents the last gasp of federal relief that has been provided to this city. Our bars and restaurants need help.”
Over the past six months, the city has allocated all $168 million in CARES Act funding, which went to a variety of programs including rental assistance, contact tracing, food distribution and business support.
You can learn more about the eligibility requirements by clicking here. The application period will run from October 15 to November 6, but the city encourages potential applicants to prepare in advance because of the expected high demand.
Hogsett said the hard-hit hospitality industry needs more help to recover.