Michigan’s restaurant and entertainment industry is being decimated by the COVID-19 virus shutdowns ordered by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. There’s really no other way to describe it. When business closings were first ordered, industry observers figured that extended shutdowns would be bad. The closings ended for a time, but with severe restrictions. And then when the new round of closings got underway hardly anyone in the industry was optimistic.

Last December, the state legislature approved a $45 million dollar program to help restaurant and entertainment center workers who lost their jobs due to the virus closings. The initial estimates were that the average grant from the fund to individuals would be as much as $1,650. But then the grant applications started coming in. Fast and furious.  Eligible recipients must have worked at a restaurant, bowling center, gym, hotel, theater, bar, casino, and even caterers.

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The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association has been given the task of administering the grant program. It’s reporting that about 90,000 grant applications have been submitted. The submission period ended earlier this week. There are some restrictions and requirements that people need to meet in order to be accepted so there is a chance some of the applications may be rejected. Rather than take the applications based on the submission date and grant the earlier applicants the full $1,650, the association is deciding to spread the money out so more people will at least get something. $45 million divided by 90,000 ends up at $500.

That’s less than a third of what potentially would have gone out to the grant recipients.  And the number of applicants may only be around half of the state residents who lost entertainment-related jobs over the past year. MLive reports as many as 200,000 jobs gone are now gone from the industry.

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