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Schumer Says Too Many Local Restaurants Across Dutchess County Were & Are At Risk Of Closure; Many Of State’s Restaurants Might Not Survive The Next Six Months Without Dedicated Federal Relief—Which Is Now On The Way To Poughkeepsie

Now Dutchess Restaurants Can Apply For DIRECT Fed Assistance To Get Through The Pandemic and Recover

Schumer: Relief For Dutchess County Restaurants Is On The Menu 

Standing at Essie’s Restaurant in downtown Poughkeepsie, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer formally announced that Hudson Valley restaurants are now eligible for their own, direct, federal pandemic relief, thanks to a provision he championed in the American Rescue Plan which he led to passage in the U.S. Senate. With New York state boosting Dutchess County restaurant capacity to 75% less than a month ago, Schumer said more help is on the way for the Hudson Valley economy BUT that local restaurants need to apply, and that the SBA will need to be ready to help Hudson Valley restaurants like Essie’s in the City of Poughkeepsie. Schumer is pushing the Small Business Administration (SBA) to stand up the new program immediate so that Hudson Valley eateries can be first in line for these funds, given that the Mid-Hudson region has been so hard hit by the pandemic.

Schumer was joined by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison.

“Even with 75% capacity rules that started on March 19th, Hudson Valley restaurants, their employees, and the overall regional economy still need immediate federal relief to weather COVID because too many of the places we know and love could close without the help, leaving a giant hole in our local economy,” said Senator Schumer. “That is why I fought so hard to make sure this relief bill included a vital ingredient – a restaurants relief fund based on the RESTAURANTS Act– to get our Hudson Valley restaurants ‘cooking’ again. Getting federal dollars into the hands of struggling small businesses, like restaurants in the Hudson Valley, not only makes sense, but it’s the recipe needed to keep small businesses like Essie’s going.”     

The new restaurant relief fund, modeled on the widely supported, bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act, will provide a down-payment of $28.6 billion in flexible grants through the Small Business Administration (SBA) as a lifeline for New York’s restaurant industry, one of the hardest hit by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Food service or drinking establishments, including caterers, brewpubs, taprooms, and tasting rooms, that are not part of an affiliated group with more than 20 locations, will be eligible. To provide comprehensive support to local restaurants, grants from the fund could be used alongside first and second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance, and the Employee Retention Tax Credit.

Across the Hudson Valley region, over 22,000 people working in the restaurant and hospitality industry lost their jobs because of COVID-19.  Schumer said that with the Hudson Valley poised to get a slice of the $28.6 billion dollar federal pot, local restaurants we know and love in Dutchess County and across the region can stay open for business, recover, and create opportunities for tourism and for workers returning to old or new restaurant jobs. Schumer also said the countless Hudson Valley food establishment jobs will be less uncertain now that this direct relief is on the way. The owner of Essie’s Restaurant, Brandon Walker, also talked about Essie’s own pandemic struggles and keeping the doors open along with his hope for the future with this monumental relief package.  

“Now more than ever before, we need to think creatively to give our local businesses a real chance at survival, especially in the hard-hit restaurant and hospitality industries. These businesses have sacrificed so much, closing down or severely restricting their operations to keep our community safe,” said Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. “For them, we must be willing to think creatively to bring our Main Streets back to life and rebuild our local economy. Senator Schumer did just this by spearheading a dedicated fund for local restaurants in the American Rescue Plan and we thank him for his leadership.”

"The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest-hit parts of our economy for over a year now and the need for a dedicated relief program is clear as day. Our local restaurants are more than just great places to eat and drink, they are pillars of our community. They buy supplies and ingredients in our stores, they employ our neighbors, family and friends, adding to the character of each neighborhood. There is a devastating ripple effect if we lose them and that is why I am extremely grateful for Senator Schumer's leadership in creating a dedicated funding stream for restaurants, like Essie's, to stay open here in the City of Poughkeepsie," said City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison.

“On behalf of our members and the Hudson Valley business community, the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce is grateful to the Senator Schumer for securing the Restaurants Act in the American Rescue plan,” said Frank Castella, Jr., President and CEO, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Restaurants are a vital part to our local economy and they have been decimated by this pandemic. Now, with the help from the American Rescue Plan, our small businesses have the aid they need to get back on their feet.”

Brandon Walker, Chef/Owner Essie’s Restaurant in Poughkeepsie said, “I’m grateful for The American Rescue Plan, not only will it help my business recover losses but it would help other Hudson Valley Restauranteurs and small business owners like myself to continue to serve their respective communities and continue to make their dreams of being a small business owner a reality.”

In the Hudson Valley, 80,000 private sector jobs were lost at the height of the pandemic, including the 22,300 in the leisure and hospitality sector. In a report released by the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA), 54% – over half – of New York restaurants said they likely would not survive the next six months without federal relief. This, compared to 37% of restaurants nationwide, indicates the dire situation of the restaurant industry in New York, Schumer said. NYSRA also estimated from the previously mentioned survey that thousands of restaurants in New York have already been forced to close due to the pandemic.

“This is a critical moment for our Hudson Valley food and beverage establishments,” Schumer added. “The SBA must roll up their sleeves ASAP and begin the hard but important work of getting these funds to our Dutchess County restaurants.”

More details on Senator Schumer’s new restaurant relief fund appear below:

Grant Maximum – $10 million per restaurant group, $5 million per individual restaurant

Eligible Expenses – Payroll and benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies including protective equipment and cleaning materials, food, operational expenses, covered supplier costs as defined by the SBA under the PPP program, sick leave, and any other expenses deemed essential by the Administrator.

Covered Period – Grants can be spent on eligible expenses from 2/15/20 through 12/31/21 and the Administrator may extend the period through two years from enactment if conditions warrant.

Set Asides – $5 billion of the $28.6 billion total is reserved for restaurants with less than $500,000 in gross receipts in 2019 for the first 60 days of the program. During the initial 21-day period, the administrator will prioritize awarding grants to eligible entities that are owned or controlled by women or Veterans or are socially and economically disadvantaged businesses.

Schumer also briefly discussed other wins for the Hudson Valley in the American Rescue Plan. Out of the estimated more than $100 billion headed to New York, the Hudson Valley will receive:

  • Approximately $ 342 million in direct payments for more than an estimated 137,000 households in Dutchess County, $204 million to around 82,000 households in Ulster County, $113 million to around 45,000 households in Putnam County
  • More than $20.77 million going in state and local aid towards the city of Poughkeepsie and over $57.06 million going directly to Dutchess County 
  • $32,000 for Hudson Valley Regional Airport

The Hudson Valley will also receive a sizable portion of the following funds:

  • Medicaid FMAP Increase: $2.7 Billion($2.1 billion already delivered from Schumer pushing President Biden to extend through the end of the calendar year, in addition to approximately 600 million from a targeted enhanced FMAP for home and community-based services from this legislation)
  • Amtrak Relief: $1.7 Billion (Relief for Amtrak to help maintain operations and other expenditures during the pandemic, especially in New York.)
  • Airline Payroll Support Program Enhancement: $15 Billion (The CARES Act Airline Payroll Support Program which will save thousands of New York airline and airline contractor jobs by keeping workers on payroll without furloughs or reducing pay rates and benefits until March 31, 2021 New York will receive sizable share of these funds.)
  • Child Care and Help for NY Families: $5.3 Billion
  • Enhanced Unemployment Benefits for NYers: $21.7 Billion
  • New Covid-19 Vaccine Procurement and Testing: $4 Billion
  • Small Business, Restaurant, and Live Venue Relief: $57.8 Billion
  • Broadband Connectivity: $632 Million