that is still in effect today. Fortunately, Governor Edwards advised his almost 2-year state of emergency is being lifted.
It’s been a challenging 24 months, and, even now, as we’ve had several federal relief measures passed, and a successful Carnival Season across our state, there are some of our LRA members who are still taking the future of their business’s day to day, week to week, and others who have managed to adapt and begin to move beyond.
At the LRA, we continue to fight each day on your behalf – at the federal, state and local levels. It hasn’t been easy and we too are battle scarred but committed to the mission. We couldn’t let today pass without reflecting on what we’ve been through that was unimaginable, unprecedented, and that we are still here together, doing what is necessary to keep the doors open, the lights on and keep our teams employed. And then hoping that your guests would return.
There were many times we asked you to join our grassroots activation. Your engagement made a significant difference. These are some of the wins secured for the industry to remind you how far we’ve come:
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The LRA partnered with the NRA in the early days of the pandemic to advocate for industry relief on a federal level. Once the PPP was rolled out, the LRA pushed for an extension of the program timeline and a shift in the eligible forgivable expenditures, allowing restaurants to use their loans to cover more overhead costs. We partnered with the NRA once again to secure a second round of PPP loans, and advocated to include non-profit organizations in the funding (including the LRA).
PPP Loan Tax Forgiveness: the legislative intent of the COVID relief package was to provide a path to forgiveness. Congress intended that expenses paid for using PPP loans be tax deductible, but due to the legislation’s quick turnaround, did not include language to do so directly in statute. Working in concert with the NRA and Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, we were able to realize the legislative intent of forgiveness for our industry—saving restaurants hundreds of millions of dollars in what would have been unexpected tax liability.
Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) Expansion: We expanded eligibility for this important tax credit so PPP recipients could also benefit, and we fought to increase the ERTC amount up to $26,000 per employee. The NRA and LRA continue to press for more timely payments which have been significantly delayed by the IRS.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF): After a year of working closely with the NRA and other industry partners, we helped secure $28.6 B as an industry-specific source of grant funding as part of the American Rescue Plan. We know that some LRA members were fortunate to receive these funds and others received less or none. With the NRA, the LRA continues to push for RRF Replenishment. Several of our members met with Senator John Kennedy on Monday of this week to explain their concerns and frustration.
Expanded Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): This program was one of the first steps in providing fixed rate, extended term loans through the SBA with more expansive use and continued discussions on delaying the start of repayments.
As we move forward, the NRA and LRA are taking an “all of the above approach” to help restaurants, bars, caterers, and venues recover – our industry was the first to be closed during the pandemic, and it appears we will be the last to recover from it. And it has been a disparate impact across sectors of the industry with some in quick service or fast casual thriving, while full-service restaurants, in many cases, is still at reduced capacity, hours of operation or operating days.
From the earliest days of the pandemic when PPE and other supplies were unavailable, through the Open Safely guidelines we helped to craft, every member we engaged with thanked us for being there for them. And we’ve continued this work for the past two years. All of us at the LRA wish to thank you for your membership, your advocacy and your most importantly your resolve to save your business for your families, team members, and the communities you serve.