SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County Commissioners approved a $4 million grant program on Tuesday aimed specifically at the area’s hard-hit bar and restaurant industry.
The program, which will be administered by LiftFund, includes $3.75 million for grants of up to $25,000. The money will go to Bexar County bars and restaurants that have not already received help through previous city and county grant programs.
"We had more restaurants and bars and other businesses apply than we had funding in the previous rounds. So this round is to help make up for that,” said Deborah Carter, director of economic and community development for Bexar County.
The application period will run from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2. To be eligible, businesses must:
- have an annual gross revenue of $5 million or less;
- have 60 or fewer employees;
- demonstrate at least a 15% loss in revenue because of COVID-19;
- reopen and remain in Bexar County.
Businesses that applied unsuccessfully for previous city and county programs through LiftFund should not have to do the application paperwork again, Carter said, though they will have to notify LiftFund if they want to be considered for this new round of grants.
The grants will be determined by a lottery selection on Nov. 13, though Precinct 2 Commissioner Justin Rodriguez asked about prioritizing businesses that had to remain closed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“There were some bars that adapted with some of those TABC regulations -- added food, in other words. Some simply couldn’t afford to do that, right? So they were, they were just -- they just couldn’t. They couldn’t open. They were mandated to stay close,” Rodriguez said.
Carter told KSAT that consideration could be added to the application process, and the lottery system could be weighted to favor bars that have been forced to stay closed.
Though Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders through the pandemic have kept bars closed for months, he has since left the decision on whether to let them reopen to local county judges.
A county spokeswoman said Tuesday that Judge Nelson Wolff has submitted the necessary paperwork to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to allow bars to reopen in Bexar County, but it had not yet been approved.