The Small Business Administration plans to process most requests for assistance from its Shutter Venue Operators Grant program by early July, Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn said on Wednesday.
More than 14,000 small businesses across the country have applied for grants, according to the SBA.
“I was encouraged to hear during a constructive discussion today with the administrator [Isabel] Guzman that SVOG has its full focus, that the program implementation team has been overhauled, that the agency will work with applicants who have simply made technical errors, and that the SBA will aim to process most applications. by early July, ”Hagerty said in a press release.
“The actions and pledges I heard from the administrator today will hopefully provide troubled Tennessee sites with more certainty of the funds needed to save their operations,” Hagerty added.
The SBA did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the timeline for processing applications.
The SBA’s $ 16 billion fund was created to help support the industry until in-person entertainment can resume. Music clubs, theaters, promoters and others can access grants of up to $ 10 million based on their 2019 gross income. The program was included in the second Covid Relief Program which was enacted in December.
The program’s application portal has been plagued by technical problems. It launched on April 8 for a few hours before shutting down without any apps due to the issues. It reopened weeks later after an uproar over the delay, and businesses have rushed to resubmit their applications in the hope of securing a much-needed grant.
Thousands of companies are still awaiting their application. At noon Monday, the SBA reported that 1,445 grants had been awarded for a total of $ 833.4 million. The agency said in its weekly report that 7,118 applications remained in the submission phase and 5,853 were under consideration. The combined applications represent $ 11.6 billion in grants.
One of those companies that waited a long time for her application to be processed was the North Park Theater in Buffalo, New York.
The venue – a local landmark – was expecting a grant worth more than $ 200,000 when CNBC’s report on the SVOG program was released earlier this week. The theater was informed on Tuesday that its request had been approved.
“This is the kind of place you want to see a movie – you’re going to forget about the outside world and escape for a few hours,” said Ray Barker, the theater’s programming director. He has worked at North Park since the 1990s, when he started out as a dealership clerk.