By Sean Kennedy
The SBA today is releasing what they say is the last batch of dollars related to the RRF program. A total of $83 million will be distributed among 169 RRF applicants at the front of the queue (based on the timestamp of the application). SBA hopes to have the funds transferred in a matter of days, and the funds need to be spent before the RRF program expires in March 2023.
We are told the earlier estimates of $180 million in unspent funds were inaccurate, and that this $83 million is the final installment. The National Restaurant Association will follow up with the SBA to ensure that every relief dollar appropriated by Congress for RRF makes it into the hands of restaurant owners.
I’ll be honest – the team here has mixed emotions about today’s news. We were the first to lay out the plan for a recovery fund to Congress in April 2020, and we worked so closely with you and our State Restaurant Partners in winning the creation of the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund. When word came that there were still RRF funds unspent by the SBA, we were the first to engage the SBA urging the immediate release of every dollar. Today’s announcement essentially closes the book on this three-year effort.
Congress has made clear they aren’t looking to replenish the RRF, but there are still a number of challenges our industry faces. From the recruitment of employees to the constantly rising cost of food, running a restaurant right now is a daily struggle. There are steps the government can take to support restaurants in every community, and we will continue to press for solutions. Congress can engage on issues as basic as allowing competition on swipe fees or as complex as reforming our immigration laws to create a stable workforce for the industry. We have the team, the partners, and the passion for advocating for this industry, and we are incredibly grateful for your ongoing support.