Tester Doubles Down on Fight to Save Montana Restaurants, Live Music Venues

Legislation would provide grants to make sure critical small businesses stay afloat

U.S. Senator Jon Tester is doubling down on his fight to make sure Montana’s restaurants and live music venues have the support they need to survive the pandemic.

Tester is pushing legislation that would provide grants to independent restaurants and small independent music venues impacted by the crisis to help them stay afloat until the pandemic abates.

“Small businesses where folks from all walks of life gather together, like restaurants and music venues, play a big role in our economy and are the lifeblood of our communities,” Tester said. “Because it will be some time before these businesses are able to safely operate at full capacity again, we need to do everything we can to ensure they can keep the lights on and pay their employees so that they’ll be there waiting for us on the other side after the public health crisis has ended.”

Tester is cosponsoring two bills that would help restaurants and independent live music venues. His RESTAURANTS Act would create a grant program to help restaurants struggling due to COVID-19 cover costs including payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies including protective equipment and cleaning materials, food, and debt obligations to suppliers. His Save Our Stages Act would provide Small Business Administration grants for independent live music venue operators to keep venues afloat, pay employees, and preserve a critical economic sector for communities across Montana.

Tester has fought relentlessly to make sure Montana’s small, independent businesses have support to survive the pandemic. He recently introduced the Entertainments New Credit Opportunity for Relief & Economic Sustainability (ENCORES) Act, a bill that will create a new tax credit for live entertainment venues with fewer than 500 employees to help cover the cost of refunded tickets for shows that were canceled due to the pandemic, and he wrote to Senate leadership calling for tax relief and debt assistance to help Montana’s music venues survive the crisis.

He is also pushing the Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-twenty (RESTART) Act to create a long-term, partially forgivable loan program that targets small- and mid-sized businesses devastated by the public health crisis.