Help this industry survive COVID-19 so it can one day thrive again. This has been the focus of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) since the onset of the pandemic a year and a half ago. While it would be impossible for the loss and devastation caused by COVID-19 to be replaced or salvaged, it appears that the worst is over, and the association's focus must now broaden while still encompassing every facet of a multi-year comeback for what was, unquestionably, the industry hardest hit by the pandemic.
American Rescue Plan Act Proposals
At the state level, the MRLA will work to ensure that a significant portion of the billions of dollars sent to Michigan via President Biden’s America Rescue Plan (ARP) are utilized to foster recovery within the industry. Our legislative proposals include, but are not limited to:
Short Term Rentals
An additional focus at the state level will be to finally solve the debate over short-term rental properties. The MRLA continues to be in pursuit of a balanced solution to this issue - one that protects property rights and ensures the integrity of neighborhoods while valuing Michigan’s critical hospitality and tourism industry. A balanced solution is found with the creation of a competitive, but fair market that fosters parity between short-term rentals and traditional lodging facilities such as hotels.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund
At the start of the pandemic, the federal government was quick to act on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and multiple other relief programs. These programs proved to be invaluable for many, but additional aid was required for hospitality businesses in Michigan, and across the country, who were forced to endure multiple shutdowns, capacity restrictions and curfews. The MRLA worked diligently alongside the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to provide additional relief and advocate for the Restaurants Act, a $120 billion fund, to help as many operators come as close as possible to recovering what was lost in 2020. Unfortunately, Congress allocated only $28.6 billion to the Restaurant Recovery Fund (RRF) which was extinguished soon after the 21-day priority window closed. In response, legislation has been introduced to recapitalize the RRF with $60 billion to ensure that as many restaurants as possible thrive again one day.
Save the Hotel Jobs Act
MRLA Members in the lodging and event sectors have been equally impacted by COVID-19 an d is the association's job to ensure elected officials understand how hard this has been for hoteliers and their employees.
Due to severely restricted business travel and limited leisure travel, occupancy rates were consistently below 20 percent. This, paired with complicated restrictions of Commercial Backed Mortgage Securities (CMBS), made it cumbersome to take advantage of some relief programs or secure additional non-CMBS loans. Because of this, MRLA partnered with our colleagues at the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) to advocate for the Save the Hotel Jobs Act which provides up to $20 million in relief funds for any property that can show a 40 percent loss and agree to a right-to-recall provision.
None of this will be easy, but it is what is necessary and most importantly, what the hospitality industry deserves. It was with great pride that the MRLA represented the hospitality industry during COVID-19 and showed Michigan, and the world, the resiliency of our great state. As we move toward a post-COVID world, the MRLA looks forward to partnering with you to re-establish Michigan’s hospitality industry back to its pre-pandemic state and continue to be your voice in Lansing.