Mayor of Washington, DC Muriel BowserShe won her third term to lead the district last week, creating a new $8 million for the Bridge Fund grant program, which provides financial assistance to businesses and owners in the restaurant, entertainment and retail sectors.
Grouping with office Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), Bowser announced that this new round of grants will target business owners who have lost income during the pandemic, with priority given to those who have not previously received relief funds.
Businesses that receive grants can use them for things like rent, wages and labor costs, and other operating expenses.
“Our restaurant, entertainment and retail industries are critical to our comeback,” Bowser said at a press conference Monday. “When we have great places for people to eat, shop and visit, it not only improves the quality of life for our residents, but it attracts more visitors to DC and creates jobs when we have more visitors and more people spending in DC. Local businesses, which allow us to invest in important programs and services, provide new opportunities for DC residents.
The move comes with a new adjustment for small businesses after a proposal passed last Tuesday to raise the minimum wage for tipped district employees from $5.35 to $6 an hour. The initiative will take effect next year, though no specific start date has been set because the measure needs to go through congressional review before becoming law.
The base wage will increase by $1 or $2 each year until 2027, when it will reach the full prevailing minimum wage based on inflation.
Bridge Fund grant awards range from $5,000 to $45,000 and are managed and administered by DMPED.City First Enterprises.
“Since the start of the pandemic, Mayor Bowser has focused on relief, recovery and growth in our small business initiatives.” John Falcicchio, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, said. “Our small businesses still need our support, and our hope is that this latest round of Bridge Funding will help move our small businesses — especially those in the hospitality industry — from recovery to growth.”
Eligible businesses include restaurants, retailers or entertainment businesses located in the District of Columbia with gross receipts of less than $5 million for 2019, 2020 and 2021. To qualify, businesses must demonstrate reductions in revenue or significant expenses and financial losses due to COVID. 19 pandemic between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021.
In total, more than $350 million has been awarded to those in the district through previous rounds of the Bridge Fund.
Keith Loria can be reached [email protected].