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(INDIANAPOLIS) — A relief fund for Indiana small businesses could get a vote next week in the

state Senate, but some businesses are lobbying to expand it.

The bill is targeted mainly at restaurants, bars and hotels, but any business could be eligible if it

has fewer than 100 workers, grosses less than $10 million, and lost at least 30% of that

revenue to the pandemic after turning a profit the year before.

That revenue limit would rule out Noblesville’s Ruoff Music Center, but Live Nation lobbyist Mark

Shublak argues the pandemic has made the concert venue a small business, dropping Live

Nation’s local payroll from 1,213 workers to eight. And he argues the hotels and

eateries the bill is trying to help won’t recover if they don’t have customers, and they won’t have

customers without the entertainment attractions that draw them.

And Markle Senator Travis Holdman (R) says the bill leaves out businesses which had just

opened and weren’t earning enough yet to meet the eligibility requirements.

The Senate will debate possible changes, but Appropriations Chairman Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen)

warns if you change the eligibility, the businesses who just miss the new cutoffs will ask to move

it again.

The fund would use federal assistance to give businesses up to $10,000 a month for

five months to help with payroll and other expenses while they try to ride out the pandemic. It’s

similar to an $11 million Indianapolis grant fund which gave about 600 restaurants an average

of $18,000 last year.

Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association president Patrick Tamm says one in five Indiana

restaurants has closed since the pandemic began, and says he expects the casualty rate to hit

50% by the end of the year without additional help.

The House approved the bill 93-3 last month. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to advance the bill.