Sen. Amy Klobuchar Talks Grants For Restaurants, More Aspects of American Rescue Plan in Duluth Visit

Minnesota Senator Klobuchar stopped by The Boat Club Restaurant in Duluth's Fitger's Complex to talk about the multi-billion dollar Restaurant Act.

DULUTH, Minn.- As stimulus checks start landing in the accounts of Americans this weekend, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar stopped by Duluth today to talk with the mayor and restaurant owners about the federal aid they’ll now receive from the American Rescue Plan.

It’s a part of President Biden’s new COVID relief bill called the Restaurants Act.

“This is focused on us,” said restaurant owner Jason Vincent. “It’s focused on the business that we have here in the Northland.”

Grants will be provided directly to the nation’s bars and restaurants, after the pandemic forced about 20% of them to close down.

“We’ve had 1 in 6 restaurants in America permanently close down and we know there’s still some closing as we speak,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar Sunday.

“We wanna be able to get through this pandemic so we’re not dug so deep in this hole that we can’t bounce back when things get better,” she said.

Minnesota Senator Klobuchar stopped by The Boat Club Restaurant in Duluth’s Fitger’s Complex Sunday to talk about the multi-billion dollar act. “It’s $28 billion in grants to restaurants and bars.”

“And then there’s also still PPP money out there, some additional for PPP money for those that don’t get those grants that can also, access it through PPP money,” said the senator.

According to Vincent, owner of The Boat Club and Vanilla Bean and President of the Duluth Local Restaurant Association, the grant amount is determined by subtracting 2020 sales from 2019 revenues.

“We have lost almost a million dollars between our restaurants,” said Vincent. “And to be honest with you, we are small compared to a lot of restaurant groups that have lost multi-millions of dollars.”

And the loss from those restaurants contributes to the roughly $135 billion restaurants have lost in sales nationwide.

So Vincent said he’s thankful this next round of aid doesn’t require owners to pay the money they don’t have back. “This is gonna be a tax-free federal grant.”

“We can’t loan ourselves anymore. We have taken out all the loans we can take; we have mortgaged ourselves to the max,” he said. “This money is grants and that’s what our industry needs right now.”

Along with the aid to small businesses the bill provides other forms of assistance, such as the bump in the Child Tax Credit struggling parents can claim from $2,000, to up to $3,600 per child under age 6 and $3,000 for children up to age 17 for one year.

That takes the weight off the shoulders of many restaurant workers who are parents, like Boat Club Bartender Samantha Lindbeck.

“After Christmas, everything just kinda goes into a decline,” she said. “And after Christmas we usually spent all that money and we’re usually pretty broke.”

“This will be really helpful as a safety net that we don’t really have, working in this industry,” said Lindbeck.

Meanwhile, Mayor Emily Larson said the American Rescue Plan, the Governor’s loosened restrictions taking effect Monday, and increased vaccinations — are all the light at the end of the tunnel for her city.

“Duluth is open again. We are open in our restaurants, we are open in our main streets,” said Mayor Larson.

“And when you visit us, when you come downtown, when you go to the mall, you will see the impact. You will see the choices many business owners have had to make,” she said.

And Sen. Klobuchar says it provides hope for the region. “Our tourism is important up here, and I want to be able to come here in a month or two to see more and more people.”

“And if we’re gonna do that we gotta make sure it stays open,” she said.

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