NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — FOX 17 News is continuing to dig into why it’s taking so long to get grant money to small venue owners.
Many venue owners looked at the shuttered venue operator grant as a lifeline, as they were unable to even start reopening until just recently.
It’s places like The 5 Spot, Exit/In, Station Inn, and many more small venues that Nashville’s known for. It’s where people get discovered, and where the community can see a great show without shelling out a fortune.
However, those small venues were hit the hardest during the pandemic, unable to start reopening until just recently. It’s why the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant looked like a life-raft for this industry.
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“It’s as close to making us whole as we could ask for given the last year,” The 5 Spot’s Travis Collinsworth told FOX 17 News last month.
“We need cash in the bank at this point, because it’s virtually impossible to project what business is going to be like the next few months,” Exit/In Owner Chris Cobb said.
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However, getting that cash in the bank has proven to be a process, and a long one at that. As of June 14, only 411 grants had been awarded out of more than 14,000 applicants.
We reached out to the Small Business Administration to find out what the hold up is. They wouldn’t do an interview but sent us a statement answering our big questions:
The SBA has provided hundreds of billions of dollars in economic relief to America’s small businesses empowering them to build back better and create an economic resurgence in communities everywhere. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program has awarded more than $304 million as of June 14, 2021.
We have dedicated team of hundreds of reviewers working around the clock to process, approve and disburse funds as quickly as possible to get the nation’s venues back on track. In large part because of statutory requirements – created in the last Administration – the applications require extensive scrutiny. To further shed some light, applicants have included anywhere from 30 to 100 documents in their applications to ensure they met the statute’s guidelines and each needs review before moving on in the grant award process.
The SBA realizes the critical need to increase processing speed for SVOG applicants – the current pace of awards is not reflective of the high standards that we strive to meet. We are committed to doing everything we can to improve funding speed, get Americans the relief they desperately need and open our venues again.
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