In an effort to assist industries reeling from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bowser administration with the support of the D.C. Council launched the Bridge Fund, a $100 million taxpayer-funded investment in businesses and workers in the District, on Nov.18.
The Bridge Fund’s mission will be available to assist businesses in four areas: restaurants, hotels, entertainment ventures and retail establishments. Specifics of the plan include up to 700 restaurants will be eligible for the $35 million pot, no more than 140 hotels can receive part of $30 million, 400 businesses are capped at getting the $20 million entertainment allocation and approximately 575 merchants qualify for the $15 million portion.
Bowser said the Bridge Fund serves as a tool to help struggling businesses continue to operate during the public health emergency.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, D.C. businesses in the hospitality, entertainment and retail sectors have made tremendous sacrifices to help us protect residents by combating and containing the virus,” the mayor said. “We remain committed to providing the support and resources that will help them get through these challenging times and eventually cross the bridge to normalcy.”
John Falcicchio, the deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said $20 million of the Bridge Fund comes from the federal CARES Act and $80 million from the District’s treasury. D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), who chairs the Committee on Economic Development, sponsored the Business Supports Grants Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 earlier this year to undergird the Bridge Fund.
“We know that Black-owned businesses have been the hardest hit and are more likely to close due to the pandemic,” McDuffie said. “So, while there remains much work ahead, today marks a clear commitment to continue to do all that I can to support our workers in D.C. and the small businesses that employ them.”