A lifeline came Monday for Chicago’s iconic concert halls and performance venues that have been crushed by the pandemic for more than a year now. CBS 2's Tara Molina reports.
BRAD EDWARDS: We begin this "Hour 18" with a lifeline for our city's iconic concert halls and performance venues crushed by the pandemic. It comes in the form of $16 billion. Billion with a B. Federal money promised months ago, finally being delivered to be shared among venues across the country.
CBS News' Tara Molina checked in with local owners applying for that help today. Tara, they've been holding on with no income for more than a year.
TARA MOLINA: More than a year now, Brad. We told you when the city divvied up grant money to 100 local venues last year. But they say that wasn't enough to sustain them. Now, owners tell us this federal money will be the make or break for your Chicago favorites.
- Our biggest fans, some of them are saying, you know what, guys, I can't come to a show, not for a year, not until there's a vaccine.
TARA MOLINA: A music venue owner talking to us nearly a year ago to the day. What's changed in that time? Vaccines are here, but stages are still bare and seats are still empty across Chicago. And despite no income, no revenue, no crowds, venue owners have still been on the line for rent, utilities, insurance, and more. That's why they say this means everything right now.
CHRIS BAUMAN: You know, we've needed this for a long time.
TARA MOLINA: The Small Business Administration site that just went live, so venue owners can finally apply for the federal funds earmarked for them in the COVID-19 relief package, signed into law months ago.
JOE SHANAHAN: We are literally on fumes right now. And this couldn't come at a better time.
TARA MOLINA: Joe Shanahan and Chris Bauman both own music venues in Chicago.
CHRIS BAUMAN: This is very important, not only to us, but to Chicago culture.
TARA MOLINA: They talked to us virtually, minutes after submitting their applications for this federal relief, something they say could change it all for them and others in the city, with $16 billion set to be divvied up by the SBA.
CHRIS BAUMAN: Our industry is facing a mass extinction without these funds.
JOE SHANAHAN: It is unsustainable for any business to try to exist without any revenue or income for more than 14 months.
TARA MOLINA: They won't know how much money they're eligible for until they hear back on their applications.
JOE SHANAHAN: We're cautiously optimistic.
TARA MOLINA: The Small Business Administration set this grant up in a way that allows for businesses that have lost the most throughout the pandemic to get this funding first. It's a way to help owners with the most on the line right now. Brad?
BRAD EDWARDS: Yeah, the final "Jeopardy" question here, all the marbles in. When will the venue owners applying for said money-- when will they actually see it?
TARA MOLINA: Brad, of course, we brought that question to the SBA today. They say they're already starting to review these applications. Again, this portal just opened up this afternoon. And they're expecting to start distributing this money sometime next month. Of course, we'll check back with them on that.
BRAD EDWARDS: We know you will. Tara Molina, thank you.