DC Offers $8M Round of Grants Aimed at Restaurant, Entertainment and Retail Sectors – Commercial Observer

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowserwho last week won her third term to lead the District, created a new round of $8 million for the Bridge Fund grant program, which provides financial support to businesses and owners in the restaurant, entertainment and retail sectors.

Cooperation with his Office Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), Bowser announced that this new round of grants will go to business owners who have experienced a loss of revenue during the pandemic, with those who have not previously received relief funds being prioritized.

Businesses that receive the grants can use them for needs such as rent, payroll and labor costs, and other operating expenses.

“Our restaurant, entertainment and retail industries are critical to our comeback,” Bowser said during a news conference Monday. “When we have great places to eat out, shop and visit, that not only improves the quality of life for our residents, it attracts more visitors to DC. And when we have more visitors to DC and more people spending at local businesses, that creates jobs, it allows us to invest in important programs and services and leads to new opportunities for DC residents.”

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The move comes as small businesses face a new adjustment after a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $5.35 to $6 an hour for tipped District workers passed last Tuesday. The initiative will go into effect next year, although no specific start date has been set as the measure must undergo congressional review before becoming law.

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The base wage will increase by $1 or $2 each year until 2027, when it will reach the full prevailing minimum wage, which is based on inflation.

Bridge Fund grant awards will range from $5,000 to $45,000 and will be administered and managed by DMPEDCity First Enterprises.

“Since the start of the pandemic, Mayor Bowser has focused our small business initiatives on relief, recovery and growth.” John Falcicchio, said the deputy mayor for planning and economic development. “Our small businesses still need our support and our hope is that this latest round of Bridge Fund will help propel our small businesses – especially in the hospitality industry – from recovery to growth.”

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Eligible businesses include restaurants, retailers or entertainment businesses located in the District of Columbia with less than $5 million in gross revenue for 2019, 2020 and 2021. To qualify, businesses must demonstrate revenue declines or significant expenses and financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the period from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021.

In total, more than $350 million has been made available to those in the District through previous rounds of the Bridge Fund.

Keith Loria can be reached at [email protected].

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