State of the RRF: By the Numbers
by David Klemt
The “tale of the tape” of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund tells a clear story: the RRF needs an injection of tens of billions of dollars.
Clearly, $28.6 was nowhere near enough to award every eligible restaurant and bar with a grant.
In fact, the RRF would need at least another $50 billion to serve all eligible applicants.
First, the Small Business Administration is to be commended for setting up the RRF portal, making the application process clear, and handling applications well.
However, there’s one glaring issue with the RRF and the review and awards process. I’ll get to that in the next section.
Per the National Restaurant Association, more than 362,000 applications were submitted via the RRF portal.
In total, the applications add up to $75 billion in grant requests. Again, the RRF was funded by the government with $28.6 billion. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that the fund was severely underfunded.
Last week, a number of Republican members of Congress sent a letter to the SBA. The gist of their message was that the RRF’s closure was premature. Therefore, the group concluded, non-priority applicants wouldn’t receive grants or even have the opportunity to apply for grants.
In the letter, which can be reviewed here, the authors also took shots at Democrats, the Biden Administration, and undocumented immigrants.
Setting politics aside, the announcement of the RRF’s portal closure was inarguably premature. The application process was first opened on Monday, May 3. For the first 21 days, the SBA announced that while all eligible entities could apply, only priority applicants would be processed and awarded grants.
However, the RRF portal closed to applications on Monday, May 24…21 days after it first opened. The members of Congress who penned the letter to the SBA have a point: the SBA closed the RRF portal after only operating within the priority window.
There’s no other way to put this: The RRF needs more funding.
Essentially, it needs twice the funding it had when it was first seeded. There’s zero guarantee that Congress will address this matter, but at least a handful of lawmakers are aware of the dire situation.
Two weeks ago, the NRA launched a petition urging the government to replenish the RRF. Of course, the RRF also needs to be reopened for applications, and the application process needs to be open to all eligible applicants.
There’s no promise the petition will achieve the desired result but we must do something. Click here to sign the petition and tell Congress the RRF needs to be replenished and reopened.