Over the past week, multiple states have launched state-sponsored relief grant programs for the hospitality industry. The goal of these programs is to help restaurants and other small businesses keep going and ultimately help them recover from financial losses incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
While several states have started these programs only fairly recently, the details of each program vary state by state, including the level of information disclosure required to qualify and the application deadlines.
In this article, we take a closer look at North Carolina’s relief grant program as it is the largest of any state for the hospitality industry.
What Exactly is the Hospitality Relief Grant Program?
The North Carolina Business Recovery Grant Program is targeted at business owners in the hospitality industry who have experienced at least a 20% decline in revenue year-over-year during the pandemic. Business owners who meet these criteria are eligible to receive grants equal to 10% of their losses up to a maximum of $500,000 per business. These grants are untethered, which means business owners can use them for any business expenses they desire.
The size of North Carolina’s relief grant program is $500 million. Although the North Carolina Department of Revenue started the grant application process only in the last few days, the funding was included in the state budget enacted in November.
Why Did States Start These Hospitality Relief Grant Programs?
The National Restaurant Association reports that 17% of restaurants across the U.S.—around 110,000—have shut down during the pandemic. For the restaurants that have managed to remain open, many have had to rely on outdoor dining to survive, especially as the number of coronavirus infections is once again surging. One restaurant, Winston's, spent $100,000 on ceiling heaters and had to cover openings to the outside with plastic tarps to make outdoor dining permanent at their Raleigh, NC restaurant.
And Winston’s is not alone. For many restaurants that hope to survive, especially with new virus variants appearing, more financial resources will be needed in order for them to make outdoor dining a permanent option. According to Lynn Minges, President of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, “North Carolina’s restaurants, hotels, and bars saw over $5 billion in losses due to no fault of their own. These grants will be transformative to businesses across the state who have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Indeed, one of these transformations for many businesses will be the addition of permanent outdoor dining.
The total financial devastation brought upon the hospitality industry by the pandemic has yet to be fully measured. While many restaurants have sadly already gone out of business, states are now taking further steps to provide much-needed assistance to the remaining hospitality business owners, including quick service restaurant (QSR) owners.
How Do I Apply for a Hospitality Relief Grant?
The application period for the North Carolina hospitality relief program opens on December 16, 2021 and closes on January 31, 2022. The grant amounts for each business will be finalized at the end of the application period (January 31, 2022).
All grant payments are made by check and mailed to the address of the applicant business after the grant amounts have been finalized. Checks are expected to be mailed to approved businesses by the end of February or early March 2022.
Online application is encouraged. Business owners can complete a short application from their personal computer or by completing the online application at one of the Department of Revenue’s service centers.
Planning Ahead for How Best to Use Your Hospitality Relief Grant
After you submit your application for your state’s hospitality relief grant program, it's time to start planning in earnest how to make the best use of the grant for your QSR. As we mentioned earlier, one of the best aspects of these hospitality relief grants is that they are untethered, which means they can be used for any business expense that you have. This untethered freedom means you have a blank page to decide what would be best for your QSR.
One option to consider is your staffing requirements. Many QSRs have a hard time hiring enough top talent for their restaurants. One of the best ways to future-proof the success of your QSR is to implement next-generation hiring technologies to ensure your restaurant is properly staffed, no matter the current climate of the job market.
Here at Workstream, we offer cutting-edge hiring technologies that allow you to scale your hiring processes so that you can source the highest volume of high-quality talent possible for your restaurant. To learn more about the innovative ways you can invest your hospitality relief grant in future-proofing your QSR, get in touch with us today!
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