As the application website for the Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program remains closed more than 10 days after it was due to begin accepting applications, members of congress have called on the federal agency to get the program up and running.
On Monday, 164 members of congress from both sides of the political divide signed the letter to the SBA, requesting that they act with urgency to get the application process up to speed to begin distributing grants through the program.
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, which was signed into law on December 27th, has been on the books for more than 114 days. The Small Business Administration was scheduled to begin accepting grants to distribute more than 16 billion apportioned by the program on April 8th, but were forced to suspend the program after just a few hours amid technical issues and unclear instructions.
Since then, the SBA has assured stakeholders that they are working as quickly as possible to resolve the issues that caused the interruptions and have pledged to have the program up and running by week’s end.
In their letter to the SBA, congressional figures from both the House and Senate, underscored the importance of providing funding through SVOG grants to businesses struggling to survive extended closures imposed by the pandemic.
“The [Small Business] Administration’s recent announcement that it is “aiming to reopen the portal by the end of the week” is encouraging, and we urge the Administration to make every effort to meet this goal. As you correctly point out, “this funding is urgently needed now.” With each passing day, more independent businesses are forced to shutter permanently or file for bankruptcy. Landlords and banks are no longer permitting deferrals and are pressing for immediate payment of past due accounts; businesses are receiving eviction notices; mom-and-pop businesses are being forced to sell. The Administration’s announcement is critical to these businesses as they work to meet existing debt obligations during these unprecedented times,” the letter from Congress said.
The National Independent Venue Association applauded Congress’s letter and further underscored the importance of immediate action to saving independent businesses from financial doom.
“The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant earned extensive bipartisan support when it was signed into law December 27, 2020, but it hasn’t been rolled out yet, so we’re gratified that 114 days later, Congress is once again expressing its intention to Save Our Stages. Today, 164 bipartisan Congressional signers are asking Small Business Administrator Isabella Guzman to act with a sense of urgency and open the $16 billion emergency relief program. Our members are anxiously awaiting, as they’ve been without revenue but still saddled with all of their overhead for the last 13 months. Without SVOG, there will be a mass collapse of our industry. Our Congressional champions from both sides of the aisle understand that we will be part of the economic renewal of our communities across America when this emergency relief arrives,” NIVA said in a statement on Monday.