New Orleans Distributes Grants to Bars, Clubs in 2021

The entertainment, restaurant and hospitality industries were hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and its related closures. Several rounds of federal funding have been distributed to states, and now states are distributing the funds to cities. Once the funds are at the city level, they can be distributed to business owners, nonprofits and individuals who have been affected by the closures. In New Orleans, city officials announced on April 3 that some of the fees bars with live music would usually have to pay will be waived.

How New Orleans Is Helping Bar and Music Club Owners

Every year, New Orleans bar and club owners have to pay a slew of fees to operate as businesses with live entertainment. These music venues have suffered from a lot of COVID-19 related economic fallout. When venues had to close, they had no way to earn any revenue. The owners had to lay off a lot of their employees, but they still had expenses to cover. The city hopes to mitigate some of the economic fallout of the pandemic by reducing those business fees.

How the Fee Waivers Will Work

Jeffrey Schwartz, who is the New Orleans Economic Development Director, said that the waiver program applies to alcohol beverage permit fees and some of the other fees that music venues typically have to pay in order to do business in the city. Schwartz said the waiver would apply to about 150 businesses in New Orleans.

Additional Economic Help for New Orleans Music Venues

The city is taking some additional steps to help the owners of music venues. It plans to get them ready to apply for some of the additional federal aid from the COVID-19 economic relief packages. There will be grants called Shuttered Venue Operator Grants. These will be available to business owners who had to shut down their businesses in order to comply with local or state mandates for non-essential businesses to close for several weeks or months in the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Much Funding Will Be Distributed

The most recent round of federal COVID-19 relief includes an estimated $16 billion for grants to venues that had to close. Those grants will be administered through the Small Business Association's Office of Disaster Assistance. Eligible applicants can qualify for grants that amount up to 45% of their annual gross earned business income. The maximum amount available per recipient is $10 million. A total of $2 billion is available for eligible applicants who have 50 or fewer full-time employees.

How Business Owners Can Apply for the Grants

Business owners should visit the Small Business Association's website to apply for grant funds. They will need to have proof of their previous year's income. This can be provided through a filed tax return. They will also need to prove how long they had to close their businesses. Business owners should also have proof of the number of people they employ, including full-time and part-time workers. The New Orleans officials will also have tips on their website for business owners who have questions or need some assistance with their applications.

Why These Grant Funds Are Important

When mayors and governors mandated the closure of non-essential businesses in order to give healthcare professionals time to prepare for COVID-19 cases, it meant that a lot of people were without jobs. Although restaurants could offer take-out or delivery, there was no way for a music venue to offer these types of services. Most music venues lost all of their revenue during the time of the closure. Even when business owners were able to reopen, they had to deal with reduced capacities for a while.

What the Grants Mean for Workers

Once business owners can reopen, they can bring their employees back. For workers, this means they don't have to worry about unemployment checks not arriving in their accounts. It also means that if the federal relief funds don't extend unemployment benefits again, they won't have to be without an income. Bringing jobs back is important to the overall economy. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, vaccinations are going well. Most workers and business owners are looking forward to a better year in 2021, and this round of grant relief funding is an important step toward their financial solvency. Any business owner who receives the grants has to guarantee to keep their doors open in 2021.

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