Michigan House approves more pandemic grants for businesses

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gyms, movie theaters and other businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic would receive state grants as part of a $185 million spending bill that won the initial legislative approval on Thursday.

The 96-6 House vote came more than a month after the Legislative Assembly and Governor Gretchen Whitmer enacted $409 million in aid for businesses that lost money – funded by discretionary federal COVID-19 assistance. Applications for these grants are due by April 1 and must be disbursed by July 1.

The next round of proposed grants, which would also be paid for with federal funds, would go to fitness centers, convention bureaus, community development banks, movie theaters and live music and entertainment venues. The bill would also offset lost revenue if separate legislation were passed to waive 2022 liquor license renewal fees and refund license fees for workers and restaurants hampered by pandemic orders. .

The Senate will then consider the bill.

“We still have job providers and workers who are suffering the economic consequences of government shutdowns and the slow return to normal. It has hurt many industries in our state, some more than others,” said the sponsor, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Thomas Albert. The Lowell Republican said the $185 million is “exactly how we should be using those federal relief dollars that are available to the state.”

The bill includes $53 million for fitness centers, $30 million for convention and visitor bureaus, $25 million for community development financial institutions, $18 million for movie theaters and 6.5 million dollars for companies that sell tickets to concerts or entertainment events. There’s also $10 million to help train and certify servers at liquor outlets.

The measure would cap the maximum grant to a fitness center at the sum of 2020 amended occupancy costs — including rent, insurance and equipment taxes — or $250,000, whichever amount is higher. lower. The maximum grant to a live venue would be $100,000. Movie theaters would receive $15,000 per screen.

Democrats in the GOP-controlled House tried unsuccessfully to add $1 billion in funding that would give bonuses to frontline workers, bolster an affordable housing program, provide grants to artists and museums affected by the coronavirus and would also let non-profit organizations such as the YMCA benefit from aid in addition to for-profit training facilities.

“Supporting the hard workers who continue to keep us safe, our shelves stocked and our stores open is not a difficult choice,” said Taylor Rep. Alex Garza.

The state has sent more than $240 million to more than 25,000 small businesses following previous rounds of pandemic funding, with nearly 75% of the aid going to restaurants, bars, retailers and other businesses across the country. service sector, according to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office.


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