Iowa bars and restaurants that are still struggling to stay open will soon be able to apply for grants through a new program being offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Jayne Armstrong, director of the SBA’s Iowa District Office, says just because thousands of Iowans are getting vaccinated doesn’t mean the pandemic is over and many restaurants in the state remain desperate for patrons.

“A lot are still just hanging on, just barely, barely hanging on. We’re not through this yet,” Armstrong says. “We always talk about ‘be loyal, buy local,’ and we’ve got to make sure those local businesses all across Iowa still have their lights on as we come out of this pandemic, so, absolutely, it’s critical.”

The SBA’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund will make $28.6 billion available nationwide to the hardest-hit small restaurants. “There’s so many different industries that are eligible for this,” Armstrong says, “everything from restaurants and bars, and wineries, distilleries, brew pubs and taprooms, coffee shops, ice cream shops, and food trucks.”

There is not yet a launch date announced for the program but Armstrong says it’ll be within a few weeks. Restaurant owners can get on the SBA website now to learn more about the program and see if they’ll qualify.

“There’s grants up to $5-million per location,” Armstrong says, “and it can be for anything from payroll costs to utility payments, any type of business expense with protective equipment and cleaning, and construction of outdoor seating related to the pandemic.”

For the first 21 days the program is open, she says the agency will prioritize reviewing applications from small businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. After that, all eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications.