Countless Hoosier businesses have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many worried whether they will be able to keep their doors open.
The Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association reports that 20% of Hoosier restaurants have been permanently closed because of the pandemic, and another 30% are unsure they will be able to stay open another nine months. Similarly, the tourism and travel industry has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Indiana Office of Tourism and Development, the tourism industry employs more than 150,000 individuals and contributes $9.3 billion to Indiana's economy.
To help Hoosier businesses and to support tourism in Indiana, I am sponsoring House Bill 1004, which would create a grant program to create and retain jobs in the hospitality industry in our state.
The Hoosier Hospitality Small Business Grant Program would focus on the hospitality industry, building on the state's existing efforts to help local businesses stay afloat. An additional $30 million dollars in funding would come from the CARES Act and would be administered by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
As HB 1004 continues to move through the legislative process, I intend to increase the number of businesses that would be eligible to apply for the program. This would hopefully include entertainment venues that have seen a dramatic decrease in revenue over the past year.
This is a critical time for many businesses and it's important that our state and community step up to ensure they are able survive and thrive. I encourage you to continue shopping and eating at the local businesses in our community. Our friends and neighbors need us now more than ever before.