ATLANTA – Georgia’s hotel industry will receive by far the largest chunk of more than $415 million in federal pandemic relief grants announced by Gov. Brian Kemp Monday.
The Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association (GHLA) will get $150 million to help offset the losses hotels across the state have sustained during the pandemic.
The GHLA is among 33 Georgia recipients of federal assistance through the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) President Joe Biden signed into law in March of last year.
The recipients were approved by one of three committees Kemp formed last summer to determine how to distribute Georgia’s $4.8 billion share of ARPA aid among state and local governments, businesses and nonprofits applying for the money.
The Negative Impact Economic Committee included Pat Wilson, commissioner of the state Department of Economic Development; State Economist Jeffrey Dorfman; Georgia House Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn; and state Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia.
“I’m proud of our state’s resilience,” Kemp said Monday. “We have worked hard and identified ways to further deliver assistance to hardworking Georgians, support businesses and speed up the recovery of impacted industries and rebuild crucial public services.”
While business and vacation travel is starting to bounce back, COVID-19 hit the hotel industry harder than most.
“This program will provide Georgia’s hospitality industry with the support it needs to create and sustain jobs for people throughout the state, helping the industry return to its pre-pandemic level of success,” GHLA Executive Director Jim Sprouse said Monday.
Other recipients of grants announced Monday include the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which will receive about $29.6 million, and Buckhead Christian Ministries, which will get $12.7 million to expand an emergency assistance program.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development will receive about $11.5 million to help performing arts venues around the state recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
“The arts and culture sector contributes $23.8 billion to Georgia’s economy, and getting it fully back on track after pandemic-caused economic harm is a priority,” said Tina Lilly, executive director of the Georgia Coucncil for the Arts. “Governor Kemp allowed our arts and entertainment venues to safely return to work earlier than many other states, and the funding he announced today will provide further assistance in restoring this sector.”
The GHLA will allocate its grant funding through a formula that will be tested through a pilot program. A deadline for applications will be determined in the coming weeks and apply to Georgia hotels that were in operation before the pandemic.
“We will make this a fair, data-driven application process that will get critical funds into the right hands efficiently,” Sprouse said. “We have the right partners in place to ensure this program succeeds.”
The state awarded more than $422 million in federal ARPA grants for water and sewer project across Georgia earlier this year as well as more than $400 million for broadband projects.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.