Home Small business financing Bobcat Bonnie is one of nearly 3,000 restaurants to lose pledged relief funding

Bobcat Bonnie is one of nearly 3,000 restaurants to lose pledged relief funding

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(WXYZ) – It was a week that was bound to be full of good news for restaurants like Bobcat Bonnies, finally back to business with no restrictions. However, on Wednesday owner Matt Buskard received a devastating email.

“It’s another punch in the stomach of an industry that didn’t really need it,” Buskard said.

This email was from the Small Business Administration, telling them that their long-awaited Restaurant Revitalization Fund payment was no longer coming.

“Watching yourself throw that lifeline was exciting. Finding out that it was going to be canceled was devastating, ”said Buskard.

Devastating because Buskard learned he had already been approved for the money in May. He was first told that in 3 to 5 days, hundreds of thousands of dollars in relief would be in his bank account. With that in mind, he started to hire more staff and buy new products.

“We started making plans knowing the money was coming because from day one we were told this money was coming,” Buskard said.

As 5 days passed to 10, then 14, Buskard continued to reach out to the SBA. He provided 7 Action News with screenshots from his communication with the SBA, which showed responses indicating that the money had been delayed, but to “be assured that the prize funds are earmarked and will be sent. Once the approved price, funds are not likely to miss Your deal. “

“It’s got to a point where you’re wondering ‘are the funds coming in? “”, recalls Buskard. “They said ‘yes, rest assured that your funds are allocated to you. They will not run out.

The hold-up stemmed from several lawsuits filed against the SBA because the first 3 weeks of the RRF program gave priority to applicants from socially and economically disadvantaged groups. This was mandated by Congress as part of the US bailout.

However, recent court rulings against the SBA have suspended payments to these priority claimants. As these payments were pending, the rest of the money was allocated and is now gone.

Now, instead of prioritizing these disadvantaged groups, the plan has backfired and ended up preventing them from obtaining any funding.

“In this situation, you are doing the exact same thing just the reverse of the argument,” Buskard said. “They left us in a worse situation than before.”

Bobcat Bonnie’s was one of more than 3,000 priority businesses whose approved funding was canceled.

In a statement, an SBA spokesperson could not comment on the litigation, but said: “We remain committed to doing all we can to help disadvantaged businesses get the help they need to recover. of this historic pandemic and restore their livelihoods “.

As of Monday, Bobcat Bonnie’s planned to shut down for a week, giving all employees a week of paid vacation. Grant funds were supposed to help with this effort.

Despite the loss of funds, these plans are still in place.

“We can’t look at our incredibly hard working staff and say ‘hey, I know I made that promise to you, but I can take it back,’ Buskard said. promise someone and you tell someone to “be reassured” that they are going to have something and then you renegotiate the terms. You can’t do that and we won’t do that to our staff.

Matt is now pushing for members of Congress to pay off the program so that businesses like his can finally see the relief they’ve been promised.

In a statement, the CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association said.

Small business owners are shocked by the SBA’s cancellation of approval of their Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants. These men and women have struggled to keep their restaurants afloat during the most difficult time in our industry’s history. The acceptance letter they received from the SBA represented a commitment to provide not only federal funding but also some necessary hope that they would survive to serve their community. The announcement that their grants will go to others has left them confused, frustrated and scared that they will have to close their doors for good. This, combined with the fact that the SBA received more than 372,000 applications asking for $ 76 billion in funds last month, is a compelling example of why elected officials in Washington DC must immediately replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

The program only had $ 28.6 billion in funds, meaning the majority of claims over $ 72 billion were not met.

A spokesperson for Senator Gary Peters also released a statement, saying that “Senator Peters is disturbed to hear of lawsuits and funding delays that are critical to helping our communities recover from this pandemic. He believes it is unacceptable that these funds are withheld and will continue to fight to help restaurants and small businesses get the support they need to come out of this pandemic. “


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