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State help coming to businesses, but it won't save all of them

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The state is helping restaurants, bars, and hotels that have been effectively closed down for the most part by the COVID-19 pandemic. That help ranges from deferred taxes, to loans, to the idea of buying back liquor.

Restaurants and bars buy liquor from the state. Getting ready for March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day, they really stocked up. Now, because they were ordered by the government to close to the public, that alcohol is just sitting on the shelf. The state is considering buying back the last 30 days of purchases.

Justin Winslow heads up the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association. He says basically it’s a short-term loan.

"Providing those resources back to the licensee and not needing to pay that money back until they're back in operation and maybe 90 days or so after that,” he said.

The bars wouldn’t have to ship the liquor back. They’d just pay for it later.

“The product will stay there. And we're talking in the ballpark of $16 million being made available....it's a great way to quickly get more cash infusion to those liquor licensee holders, restaurants and bars that are suffering the most right now,” Winslow said.

It’s not a done deal, but it’s in the works.

The State of Michigan is allowing the restaurants, bars, and hotels to hold off on paying taxes for a little while. The Treasury is delaying sales, use, and withholding taxes for 30 days without penalty.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed off on $20 million in grants and loans to help the businesses. (More on that story here.)

The hospitality industry is also hoping to get a significant portion of the $125 million in stimulus money recently approved by the Legislature.

Winslow says even with the state’s help, some of the businesses will not survive being closed to people for the duration of the pandemic.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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