A new bill would offer financial assistance to struggling businesses. 

By Elisabeth Sherman
June 29, 2017
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In response to a recent slew of restaurant closings in the D.C. area, a new bill that has been introduced by city councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau hopes lend extra support to small businesses.

According to a report from the Washington City Paper, the bill, entitled the “Small Business Rental Assistance Program Establishment Act of 2017,” would fund businesses that have been operating in the same neighborhood for the past ten years in good financial standing, by awarding them loans or grants of up to $50,000 per year. That’s a hefty cash infusion, so no single business can receive more than five loans over the course of the program.

One Washington D.C. business owner, Richard Nguyen, thinks the assistance program, though well intentioned, might not help restaurant owners in the long run.

“I understand the city wants to help," he told the Washington City Paper. "But if a landlord hears about an assistance program, will they keep the lease the same or jack it up because of potential assistance?"

Nguyen thinks that the loans are more likely to help restaurants cover the cost of expensive appliances. He refers to one colleague who needed to replace an air conditioning unit in his restaurant – to the tune of $80,000.

The bill only applies to Ward 1 of the Washington D.C. area, which means it wouldn’t apply to the whole city, but a similar program has already taken effect in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Before the bill is approved, it must undergo a hearing with the Committee on Business and Economic Development, which means troubled Washington D.C. restaurants won’t be getting assistance any time soon.

In another attempt boost small businesses, on the other coast California may soon make it legal to sell food right out of your own kitchen. Both approaches seem to indicate that one of the biggest obstacles to any successful business, new or established alike, is overhead cost.