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Employment in the hotel, restaurant and hospitality sectors in Arkansas has plummeted since the coronavirus began spreading across the state in March.
More than 21,000 Arkansans have lost their jobs in service industries primarily because of the pandemic. And, as covid-19 cases continue to spike, there is little hope for a quick turnaround without some financial support.
Now, the state is offering $50 million in grants to hotels, restaurants, tourism operators and other service-sector firms that have lost business in the raging pandemic.
Funding is intended to cover losses from covid-related business restrictions imposed on the local, state or federal levels.
Any business in those sectors — including salons and health clubs — that has fewer then 250 employees is eligible for the grants. The application process ends Wednesday and grants are expected to be awarded before Christmas.
Unlike other programs that have provided economic relief, the initiative is not first-come, first-served. Grants will be awarded based on need, according to Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
Under the initiative, purchases of personal protection equipment — everything from masks to mops — can be submitted for reimbursement. Business owners also can request relief for rent or mortgage interest …
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