Congress is working on the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better Act”, and a vote could come later this month. The bill makes important investments in things that will benefit our country and the restaurant industry – including pre-K education, greater access to childcare, and improvements in public transit.
But the bill is lacking for us in two significant areas … it does not replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), and it raises taxes on small businesses at a time when our industry truly cannot bear more financial strain. We have produced a 5-minute explainer video that walks through how the tax changes would affect your bottom line.
Earlier this week, the National Restaurant Association released a new survey of the state of the industry. The conclusions are bleak – deteriorating business conditions are impacting operators’ outlook to the point that they state a recovery from the pandemic will be prolonged well into 2022. Overall, a majority of full-service and limited-service operators say business conditions are worse now than three months ago. These findings come on the heels of rising food and supply costs, a well-documented labor shortage, nearly $300 billion in lost sales, and debilitating debt that continues to mount.
We released a public letter to congressional leaders sharing the results of our findings and our strong objections to the Build Back Better Act as written.
Congress can change the bill to help our industry – but we need to be vocal, and we need to act now. Our advocacy team alongside the NRA is engaging policymakers to press for a solution that will improve, not jeopardize, the efforts of restaurant owners to keep their doors open.
We try not to send these types of requests too frequently, and only when your input can truly make a difference. I urge you to take a moment, review the materials, and lend your voice to the cause.
Earlier this week, the National Restaurant Association released a letter to congressional leadership outlining our strong objections with the proposed "Build Back Better Act" that congressional leaders aim to move via the reconciliation process.
Today, the NRA released a national survey on the state of the industry as we continue to struggle with the Delta variant, rising input costs, and declining revenues. A fact sheet on our findings for Louisiana is below.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of Jonathan Baynham as its Executive Director. Baynham brings 10 years of experience in the education and non-profit sectors throughout the Greater New Orleans area to the position.
The LRAEF is the workforce arm of the association and includes educational programming and the ProStart program. In his new role, Baynham will manage the day-to-day operations of the foundation including the development of the goals and strategies, implementation and administration for all operational, programmatic and fundraising activities. His experience and background will serve the LRAEF through working with state and federal goverments to establish job training and development programs and secure investment for its high school program, ProStart.
“We welcome Jonathan to the LRAEF at one of our industry's most pivotal times as we continue to expand our impact in workforce development,” said LRA President and CEO Stan Harris. “As we continue to address the impact of COVID, developing and enhancing the skills of our workforce is a critical need.”
Prior to joining the LRAEF, Baynham was the Program Administrator for the Joe W. and Dorothy Brown Foundation where he managed all K-12 education programs including initiatives for Service Learning and STEM development. He also brings six years of teaching experience from Ursuline Academy in New Orleans.
“I am excited to join an amazing team at the LRA and develop culinary career exploration opportunities for high schoolers around the state. Hospitality is a major economic driver statewide, and we will make sure that our students are prepared when they enter into the workforce,” said Baynham.
Baynham is a Louisiana native and graduated with Bachelor of Arts from Spring Hill College and a Masters of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University
The City of New Orleans reminds all business owners within the boundaries of the French Quarter Economic Development District (bounded by the Canal Street neutral ground, Esplanade Ave., the Mississippi River, and the lakeside of N. Rampart Street) that collections of the "Quarter for the Quarter" sales tax begins Oct. 1, 2021. Be sure to adjust your point of sale systems, cash registers and other transaction tracking equipment to begin collecting this tax.
The re-enactment of a 0.245 percent special sales tax levied in the French Quarter EDD was approved by voters in a special election. It will provide funding for supplemental POST-certified officer patrols and other public safety programs in the area. The items to be taxed include food and beverage sales, retail sales and parking are identical to the items taxed under the FQEDD tax that expired December 31, 2020. Hotels will tax food and beverage, catering, parking, and other guest services. For a detailed list of what is required to be taxed follow this link.
The French Quarter Management District and the City of New Orleans executed a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement to define the roles of the Administration, NOPD and FQMD in providing the development of the budgets, expenditures and reporting for the life of this tax. The first $2 million dollars of this tax is earmarked for supplemental POST certified officer patrols.
For more information on the FQEDD sales tax contact the City of New Orleans Finance Department/Bureau of Revenue Tax at (504) 658-1692.
Last Thursday, President Biden gave a speech on the pandemic, indicating that the US Department of Labor (DOL) is developing an emergency rule requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to require their employees to be fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week. He also said that the DOL will require these employers to provide paid time off to get vaccinated.
Our industry has done a lot to support vaccination efforts, and we’ll continue to do so because health experts tell us this is the most effective tool we have to combat the pandemic. At the same time, we know this directive could be very problematic for you as you struggle to hire and retain workers and cover all of the new pandemic-related costs that have been left in your lap for the past 18 months. Please see the statement below that we issued to our media contacts today, emphasizing that you need support, not unfunded mandates, to meet the current challenges of the pandemic.
The National Restaurant Association is already engaging with DOL officials to shape this emergency rule as much as possible. And it’s clear there will be multiple lawsuits filed to attempt to stop the rule from going into effect. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and keep you updated as it develops. But I do want to be clear that this new rule is still in development and not something that you must implement now.
“The National Restaurant Association and the restaurant industry support vaccination for everyone because higher vaccination rates are our best bet for containing the spread of COVID-19. Our COVID-19 Operating Guidance best practices continue to suggest that all restaurant employees be vaccinated if possible. While we appreciate the intent of this executive order, we hope that the Administration will work with us to take into consideration the unique operations of restaurants when creating the guidelines for implementation.”
- Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, National Restaurant Association
SBA Enhances COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to Aid Small Businesses Facing Challenges from Delta Variant
Increased Loan Cap to $2 Million, Expanded Use of Funds to Pay and Prepay Business Debt, Streamlined Review Processes, and Deferred Payments; First Approval and Disbursement of Loans of $500,000 or Less Also Introduced
Today, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced major enhancements to the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, a federal disaster relief loan designed to better serve and support our small business communities still reeling from the pandemic, especially hard-hit sectors such as restaurants, gyms, and hotels. The SBA is ready to receive new applications immediately from small businesses looking to take advantage of these new policy changes.
“The SBA’s COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program offers a lifeline to millions of small businesses who are still being impacted by the pandemic,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said. “We’ve retooled this critical program – increasing the borrowing limit to $2 million, offering 24 months of deferment, and expanding flexibility to allow borrowers to pay down higher-interest business debt. We have also ramped up our outreach efforts to ensure we’re connecting with our smallest businesses as well as those from low-income communities who may also be eligible for the companion COVID EIDL Targeted Advance and Supplemental Advance grants totaling up to $15,000. Our mission-driven SBA team has been working around the clock to make the loan review process as user-friendly as possible to ensure every entrepreneur who needs help can get the capital they need to reopen, recover and rebuild.”
Key changes being announced by the SBA include:
The enhancements to the COVID EIDL program will allow more businesses greater and more flexible support from the over $150 billion in available COVID EIDL funds. Additionally, these changes will help entrepreneurs access capital at a time when, according to a recent Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses survey, 44 percent of small business owners report having less than three months of cash reserves, and only 31 percent reporting confidence in gaining access to funding.
How to apply
Eligible small businesses, nonprofits, and agricultural businesses in all U.S. states and territories can apply. Visit www.sba.gov/eidl to learn more about eligibility and application requirements. The last day that applications may be received is December 31, 2021. All applicants should file their applications as soon as possible.
For additional information on COVID EIDL and other recovery programs please visit www.sba.gov/relief. Small business owners may call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard of hearing) or email DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov for additional assistance. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Multilingual representatives are available. Small business owners may also contact SBA’s Resource Partners by visiting www.sba.gov/local-assistance.
Application Process and Fraud Control Enhancements
In addition to the policy enhancements, the SBA has invested in optimized processes and increased capacity to improve the customer service experience for applicants. Directed by Administrator Guzman to swiftly and drastically enhance COVID EIDL, the revamped management team implemented new processes and performance management such as prioritizing personnel for COVID EIDL and increasing the average number of loan application decisions made. The SBA accelerated daily processing of loan increases from close to 2,000 applications to more than 37,000 applications daily. Loan officer productivity also went from 1.86 applications per day to 15 applications per day. As a result of these increased loan review rates, the 600,000+ loan increase backlog has been cleared and new applications can be processed immediately. At the same time, and to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to support businesses that need COVID EIDL funding most, the SBA has increased fraud controls and is working in collaboration with the SBA Inspector General to closely monitor the program.
All business owners that have received previous loans through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), or Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) can still benefit from COVID EIDL. To learn more about the application process, visit www.sba.gov/eidl.
As the National Restaurant Association and state restaurant associations continue to advocate on behalf of the industry, please help us quantify and further illustrate the economic impact that the coronavirus is continuing to have on the restaurant industry.
The Association’s Research Group has developed this brief survey to help us collect important data to inform our ongoing advocacy activities for critical RRF replenishment funds.
The last day to complete the survey will be Wednesday, September 15th. Our goal is to have strong participation so that we are able to share data from as many states as possible.
Low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to Louisiana businesses and residents as a result of President Biden’s major disaster declaration, U.S. Small Business Administration’s Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced.
The declaration covers Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana parishes as a result of Hurricane Ida that began on Aug. 26, 2021.
“SBA’s mission-driven team stands ready to help Louisiana’s small businesses and residents impacted by Hurricane Ida,” said Administrator Guzman. “We’re committed to providing federal disaster loans swiftly and efficiently, with a customer-centric approach to help businesses and communities recover and rebuild.”
In consideration of the public health concerns due to the Coronavirus pandemic, on Tuesday, Aug. 31, SBA will establish a Virtual Business Recovery Center to provide personalized assistance to business owners. In addition, SBA will also open a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center to help homeowners and renters. Customer Service Representatives will be available to business owners and individuals to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each person complete their electronic loan application.
Virtual Business Recovery Center and
Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Monday – Sunday (7 days/week)
8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Eastern Time
Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.
For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available to businesses regardless of any property damage.
Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.
Interest rates can be as low as 2.855 percent for businesses, 2 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.563 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.
To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, survivors must first contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency at www.disasterassistance.gov. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659‑2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail) for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
In his press conference this afternoon, Gov. Edwards announced that he will extend the statewide mask mandate until Sept. 29. To read the proclamation, click here.