Three of Guam's main tourist attractions have received federal assistance through the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG), a program under the Small Business Administration that seeks to help businesses recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Guam SandCastle, the Lina'La Cultural Park and the Fish Eye Marine Park are among the recipients of the supplemental grants announced by SBA last month.
Congressman Michael San Nicolas said the grants can help Guam's shuttered businesses reopen and stay afloat as the island struggles to revitalize the tourism industry, which has been paralyzed by the pandemic.
"We need to help as many of our tourist attractions as we can survive and maintain operational capability as tourism remains a moving target, and we have been working hard over the past few months to ensure the SVOG does what it is intended for us on Guam," San Nicolas said.
"We can now look forward to these key attractions continuing to operate despite tough tourism conditions, recovering payrolls for dozens of employees no longer able to avail of PUA, and helping our community to remain economically viable in these uncertain times," he added.
Guam businesses also stand to receive additional financial rescue through Restaurant Revitalization funding and Economic Industry Disaster Loans.
The SVOG program was appropriated more than $16.2 billion for grants via the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act, and the American Rescue Plan Act. Of these funds, at least $2 billion is reserved for eligible SVOG applications with up to 50 full-time employees.
Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45 percent of their gross earned revenue up to a maximum amount of $10 million for a single grant.
SVOG supplemental awards are provided to those who received an initial grant and have illustrated a 70 percent loss when comparing 2021’s first-quarter revenues to the same in 2019.
SBA said approximately $9 billion has so far been awarded in initial SVOGs to more than 11,500 venues, providing a critical lifeline for theaters, live venue spaces, and other entertainment and cultural hubs as they recover from the pandemic, re-open in many communities across the nation and continue contributing to local economies.
“The SBA has awarded approximately $9 billion in crucial relief to approximately 11,500 performing arts venues and other related businesses so they can continue to anchor our neighborhoods and define our communities. We know many of these businesses still need assistance to fully recover from the unanticipated expenses and debt caused by the pandemic,” said Matthew Stevens, SVOG program director.
“These supplemental grants will go to the hardest-hit Shuttered Venue Operators Grant awardees to ensure they can get back on their feet and get back to the business of driving our nation’s economy.”
SBA said supplemental award applicants can choose to apply for any amount up to 50 percent of their original SVOG amount, with a $10 million cap of the initial and supplemental awards combined, according to the law.
The supplemental awards also allow SVOG recipients to extend the time to use their grant funds for expenses accrued through June 30, 2022 and lengthen their budget period to 18 months from the initial grant’s disbursement date.
SBA said if sufficient funding is not available for all eligible entities to receive a supplemental award, priority will be given to applicants who have illustrated the greatest revenue loss in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter in 2019.