Tucson Metro Chamber Backs Sinema’s Bipartisan Bill Supporting Local Restaurants During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Oct 27, 2020

Sinema introduced the bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act in June

WASHINGTON – Members of the Tucson Metro Chamber wrote in support of Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act—legislation she introduced with Republican Senator Roger Wicker (MS) in June. The Senators’ legislation establishes the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide local Arizona restaurateurs with funding to rehire workers and deal with the long-term ramifications of COVID-19.
“Arizona restaurants fuel jobs across our state, and need support right now. Establishing a Restaurant Revitalization Fund will help get Arizonans back to work and ensure our local restaurants keep their doors open as we continue to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” said Sinema.
“The restaurant and food industry in Tucson is vitally important to our economy and defines our culture. We would not have received the UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation in 2015 if we did not demonstrate the connection between our local food scene and our rich heritage. The RESTAURANTS Act of 2020 will help breathe some life back into our independent restaurants that exemplify the uniqueness and character of our region and ensure that we keep our prestigious and impactful UNESCO designation,” wrote the Tucson Metro Chamber.

Restaurants are a driving force in Arizona’s economy. In 2019, Arizona restaurants created 310,600 food service and related jobs and were responsible for 11% of employment in the state. However, across the country restaurants have been uniquely devastated by COVID-19. In April alone, 5.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs. Without federal relief, another 11 million restaurant workers stand to lose their jobs permanently. 
Sinema’s bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act created the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant program, authorizing $120 billion to provide structured relief to restaurants through 2020. Under the bill, the Department of the Treasury will administer the RRF program and source the $120B from its CARES Act allotment. Awards will be one-time grants valued to cover the difference between revenues from 2019 and projected revenues through 2020, with a maximum grant of $10 million. Restaurants do not need to pay back their grants and can use the funding for payroll, benefits, mortgages, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies, protective equipment, cleaning materials, food, and any other expenses deemed essential by the Treasury.