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Portion Of Monroe Co. Food And Beverage Tax To Support Local Business During Shutdown

Kirkwood Ave. near IU's campus is devoid of cars one day before Gov. Eric Holcomb's coronavirus Stay-At-Home order will take effect.

Several restaurants in downtown Bloomington are suffering during the coronavirus shutdown. City council says it will address their needs in its proposal Wednesday. (Emma Atkinson, WFIU/WTIU News)

A portion of Monroe County’s food and beverage tax fund is going to help local businesses recover from the coronavirus shutdown.

The Food and Beverage Tax Advisory Committee approved a resolution Tuesday to take $200,000 from the county’s food and beverage tax fund, and give it to restaurants and businesses that promote tourism.

Customers have been paying the 1-percent tax since February of 2018. The money is supposed to be used for the Monroe County Convention Center expansion project. But it's been at a standstill.​

Monroe County Commissioner Julie Thomas says the funding comes from local business feedback.

“This will help folks who work in the service industry, the businesses themselves and the business owners themselves," Thomas says. "These are always people who live on the margin of the economy."

Thomas says the money will likely be given to businesses through interest free loans or grants.

READ MORE: Monroe County Commissioners Ask To Suspend Food And Beverage Tax

Owner of Switchyard Brewing Company, Kurtis Cummings, says he’s applied for a national small business loan, but it’s not going to come in time to save his business.

“Here at Switchyard we did apply for a SBA loan. We’re being told 12-14 weeks. I can tell you that we will not make it that long," Cummings says. 

The $200,000 will only be available for businesses outside of Bloomington city limits in Monroe County. Bloomington City Council will propose its own plan Wednesday night, which would pull money from the same food and beverage tax fund. 

City council president Steve Volan says the tax committee will meet again Friday at 5 p.m. to lay out the details and include the city’s proposal for the funds.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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