Starting in spring of 2020 East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA), Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), Greater Dubuque Development Corporation (GDDC), and the Dubuque area Small Business Development Center (SBDC) established a business hotline to assist local businesses address business challenges and navigate the changing landscape of assistance programs.

 The Jackson County Economic Alliance, thanks in part to assistance from the Federal Economic Development Administration, recently has joined this partnership along with Clinton Community College (CCC) and the Davenport Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to offer this assistance in Jackson County.

 The timing of this new partnership begins with the release of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Starting Friday, April 30, restaurants, bars and other eligible entities that have experienced pandemic-related revenue loss may register to receive financial assistance from the RRF. The Business Helpline will assist those business owners with the registration and application process.

 The American Rescue Plan Act established the fund to provide support to restaurants and bars. Food trucks, caterers, bakeries, brewpubs and breweries, wineries, distilleries and other qualifying businesses may apply for funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.

 This first-of-its-kind grant program, which will be administered by the US Small Business Association (SBA), provides debt-free support in the amount of annual revenue lost from 2019 and 2020, with special provisions for businesses that opened in 2020 and 2019. The SBA recommends qualifying applicants familiarize themselves with the application process in advance to ensure a smooth and efficient application experience. Businesses should register for an account in advance at restaurants.sba.gov. Online applications already started being accepted this past Monday.

 “Not unlike elsewhere in the country, Jackson County restaurants and drinking establishments were some of the hardest hit industry sectors over the past year. We are excited to join this partnership to better deploy assistance to all of our area businesses, and the timing is right because of the roll out of this new assistance program,” said Jackson County Economic Alliance Director, Nic Hockenberry.

 For the first 21 days the program is open, the SBA will prioritize funding applications from businesses owned and controlled by women, veterans and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. All eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications as soon as the portal opens. Following the 21 days, all eligible applications will be funded on a first-come, first-served basis. The online application will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted.

 For more information and to speak to a local representative, contact the Business Helpline at (563) 588-3350 between 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, or email sbhelpline@nicc.edu.