Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado visited Bethel Woods Center for the Arts to push for legislation to support live event venues and small- and mid-sized businesses that have been hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis. While the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was intended to help small- and mid-sized businesses weather the economic crisis, many have slipped through the cracks and are struggling to maintain operations and pay their employees. Theaters and live event venues, restaurants, and hospitality providers in particular have been largely unable to access PPP benefits despite unprecedented revenue losses since March. PPP required businesses to maintain their pre-pandemic employee headcount for up to 24 weeks. The current realities of the hospitality and entertainment industries have left many of those businesses unable to bring all of their staff back, making them ineligible for relief.
For example, Bethel Woods has been forced to close until the 2021 season, cutting 600 jobs and is projecting $12 million in lost revenue. To support small businesses like historic Bethel Woods, Senator Gillibrand is calling for the bipartisan Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-Twenty (RESTART) Act in the next coronavirus relief package to provide a lifeline for those unable to access PPP. The legislation would create a new loan program to fund 6 months of payroll, benefits, and fixed operating expenses for businesses that have lost substantial revenue due to the pandemic.
“Arts venues, restaurants, and tourist attractions across the Catskills and the state are suffering. These small businesses make New York a world renowned entertainment destination and we must help them survive this economic crisis,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The PPP program clearly did not work for those hit hardest by this crisis, but the RESTART Act would help fill the gaps and ensure they receive the support they deserve. I will continue fighting to include this legislation as we work to pass the next relief package.”
“Last month, I held a roundtable at the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association where I heard from business owners about the dire situation faced by venues and mid-sized businesses across the county that are unable to reopen due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is clear from my conversations throughout the district that small and mid-size businesses need additional support,” said Rep. Delgado, member of the House Small Business Committee. “That’s why I’m calling on the House and Senate to urgently pass supplemental relief for NY-19 through the bipartisan RESTART Act. This legislation builds on the Paycheck Protection Program to provide flexible loans for the hardest hit businesses in our area. Congress has a duty to respond to the needs on the ground in our rural communities, and I’ll keep pushing to get this bill included in the next coronavirus relief package.”
“Bethel Woods is proud to host Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to announce her introduction of the RESTART Act. This bipartisan bill will provide vital assistance to thousands of our nation’s small businesses, including arts organizations like Bethel Woods. At a time when cultural institutions across the country are weathering the COVID-19 storm, the RESTART Act is a much-needed lifeline to ensure the curtains will rise once again when it is safe to do so.” – Eric Frances, CEO, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
“I want to thank Senator Gillibrand for her commitment to the New York State tourism industry. The tourism industry is a critical part of our economy and one that’s been hit the hardest by the pandemic. The Senator’s foresight to create legislation that will extend and make the PPP program more flexible, will afford our small businesses the ability to retain employees and quickly recover from our current economic situation. Rebuilding our businesses and keeping our hospitality workers employed is essential for the overall economic wealth of New York State and the Sullivan Catskills.” – Roberta Byron-Lockwood, President/CEO of the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association
“The Hudson Valley and Catskills regions are home to many small and mid-size businesses that cater to the tourism industry, including restaurants, boutique hotels, theaters and event venues that are really struggling to survive during this pandemic. The federal RESTART Act, co-sponsored by Senator Gillibrand, is the shot in the arm that our businesses need to help pay their operating expenses and get them through this challenging time. I thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership in coming to the aid of our local businesses, and I urge the Senate to pass this legislation and bring needed relief to these hard-hit businesses.” – New York State Senator Jen Metzger (D-42nd Senate District)
“I strongly support any action that can help many of our small businesses and live event venues get back on their feet. I applaud Senator Gillibrand’s effort on their behalf in sponsoring this bill.” – New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-100th Assembly District)
“I am very excited that Senator Gillibrand is here in Bethel, NY fighting for local businesses and organizations that make up the backbone of our economy and are part of our community tapestry. The RESTART Act will be an economic lifeline for these deeply affected businesses and for their communities who rely on them. Senator Gillibrand has always fought for us at the local level and I thank her for her leadership.” – Town of Bethel Supervisor Daniel Sturm
Specifically, the RESTART Act would:
- Provide access to loans to cover 6 months of payroll, benefits, and fixed operating expenses for small and mid-sized businesses and nonprofits that have suffered significant revenue losses and would provide an extended 12-month covered loan period for businesses that have seen revenues decline by at least 80 percent;
- Forgive a share of loans based on revenue declines suffered by the recipient in 2020 (or during the six-month covered loan period) compared to a year earlier, with the remainder to be paid back over 7 years, with generous loan terms. Businesses with fewer than 5,000 employees would receive even more favorable terms on loan forgiveness;
- Offer more favorable loan terms to nonprofits, including a longer duration and a lower interest rate;
- Defer interest payments for the first year of the loan, and defers principal payments for the first 2 years, with additional deferral available to economically distressed firms;
- Build an origination fee structure designed to provide an incentive for banks and other financial institutions to assist the smallest businesses;
- Allow businesses to choose when to rehire their workers and when to deploy the capital;
- Provide a 100% loan guarantee from the federal government.
A one-pager on the RESTART Act can be found here.