On Friday, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) led the entire bipartisan Washington congressional delegation in a letter to U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman requesting revisions to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) participation criteria for the American Rescue Plan’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RFF). As currently written, the criteria effectively disqualifies Washington state’s distillery and craft distillery industry from receiving RRF relief. The Washington delegation is calling for revisions to the criteria to ensure small business owners have equitable opportunity to access relief from the federal program.
In addition to Kilmer, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01), Rick Larsen (D-WA-02), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03), Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07), Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA-08), Adam Smith (D-WA-09), and Marilyn Strickland (D-WA-10).
“According to SBA criteria, entities must derive 33 percent of their revenue from on-site sales to qualify for the RRF program. However, Washington state law limits distilleries to no more than 30 percent of their revenue from on-site consumption. This state law means that it is illegal for Washington state distilleries to meet the on-site sales requirement for RRF participation. In view of this misalignment between state law and SBA criteria, we fear that Washington state distilleries will be ineligible from accessing RRF relief—which they so need and which American Rescue Plan was designed to provide them.,” the Members wrote to Administrator Guzman.
“[…] we encourage the SBA to help rectify this situation and extend RRF access to our state’s hard-hit distillery industry. It would be a great improvement if the SBA would include language derived from the criteria in the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Grant Program for Washington state distilleries, which would allow their inclusion in the RRF program. We respectfully request that the SBA revise its criteria for RRF eligibility to explicitly accommodate distilleries that generate at least 33 percent of gross annual revenue from combined in-person sales at their own establishments and distribution to other on-site retailers.”
The full text of the letter is available here.