DC mayor announces millions of dollars in funding relief for business community and expanded COVID-19 testing

Millions of dollars in financial help is giving some hope to the struggling business community within the District.

Wednesday, the office of D.C Mayor, Muriel Bowser announced a new program called, Bridge Fund that will allocate $100 million in grant funding from the CARES Act to local businesses. Officials hope the program will help carry the city’s hardest-hit industries through the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Council of the District of Columbia passed the “Business Support Grants Emergency Amendment Act of 2020” to establish the Business Support Grant to provide businesses with financial support and aid in their recovery from the public health emergency.

- Funds will be disbursed via four programs:

- Restaurant Bridge Fund: $35 million

- Hotel Bridge Fund: $30 million

- Entertainment Bridge Fund: $20 million

- Retail Bridge Fund: $15 million.

Ron Goodman, Co-owner of Ivy City Smokehouse said, he has to think very carefully about how he plans to use the money.

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“Just making sure that we can meet payroll and pay people,” said Goodman.

“That’s the hardest part. Everybody is very scared. At first we picked up our carry out business but we had to let a lot of people go and now we are doing about half of what we used to do and barely getting by.”

Just across the way, Matt Baker, Chef and owner at Gravitas and Baker’s Daughter said he has some of the same worries. 

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Baker said he’s hoping to use the money to not only pay the bills but also continue winterizing his outdoor space. 

“Obviously $100 million to small businesses is not going to go very far,” said Baker, but I also think it speaks to the uncertainty of what we are looking at over the next few months with winter coming. Every little bit counts and you never want to be unappreciative to something that’s being done to help support us.”

The application process for the funds opens in December. 

Bowser’s office also announced new information about expanding testing sites and extending hours. That includes several fire houses where testing will take place from 2:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Testing will also be available on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Bowser said Nats Park is also being added to the list of testing sites.

Starting Monday, Nov. 23, D.C will begin taking insurance information from those getting tested but that does not mean anyone would be denied but the mayor said, insurance companies should be paying.