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Cuyahoga County announces $1.2 million grant program to assist restaurants

The press conference came as Cuyahoga County has returned to Ohio's watch list for reaching purple level 4 in the state's COVID-19 alert system.

CLEVELAND — “We’re in a very dangerous time.”

Those were the words from Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish as he spoke to the community during a virtual press conference Friday about the area's spike in COVID-19 infections.

He addressed the growing concern connected to the local restaurant industry after multiple locations recently closed, including Sokolowski's and Michael Symon's Lola Bistro

In an effort to prevent more closures, Budish revealed a $1.2 million grant stabilization program targeted specifically at assisting the restaurant community throughout Cuyahoga County. The relief, which comes from CARES Act funding, will give local restaurants grants up to $10,000. Applications for the grant money will be accepted through 5 p.m. Dec. 11. The funds must be distributed by Dec. 31.

Restaurants can apply for those funds HERE.

“Our locally owned restaurants are a key part of our community and our culture. Many of them have experienced terrible losses or closed forever because of the virus,” Budish said in a press release. “Several restaurants that have applied for and received funding earlier on in the pandemic have exhausted their funding assistance. We are providing an additional $1.2 million in grant funding to help our restaurants catch up on unpaid rent and utilities and any COVID safety-related costs they’ve incurred.”

Grants will be administered by Destination Cleveland and distributed by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.

“Destination Cleveland is incredibly appreciative of Cuyahoga County’s continued efforts to help preserve the Cleveland experience for residents and visitors alike,” said David Gilbert, President and CEO of Destination Cleveland. “Our locally owned restaurants play such an important role in illustrating our ethnic diversity, history and creativity and help define what makes Cleveland a destination city. We are proud to partner with the County and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress to offer this much-needed relief to our restaurant community.”

Restaurants that are eligible for a grant will be contacted for further information and must submit the requested documentation within 48 hours of the supplemental information request, county officials noted.

Budish also announced a proposal to contribute $500,000 to the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland to assist with providing emergency food assistance and to support the opening of new hunger centers. The proposal will be reviewed by the Cuyahoga County Board of Control on Monday, Dec. 7.

This press conference took place one day after Cuyahoga County was put back on the state’s watch list with the potential of reaching “purple” level 4 in Ohio’s color-coded COVID-19 alert system. Although Cuyahoga County has been on the watch list before, it has never been elevated to purple, which is the highest risk level in the state.

Multiple Northeast Ohio counties, however, hit purple status for the first time Thursday. This includes Summit, Portage, Stark, Medina and Richland counties.

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