A Letter to Members from MLBA President Rick Swindlehurst

Good afternoon, MLBA Members.

This message comes during trying times, but I want to assure everyone that the MLBA staff is working around the clock and doing everything within its power to be a resource for you and your employees.

As a bar owner myself, I understand your frustrations during these unprecedented times. Who would have thought we would all have our doors closed on St. Paddy’s Day?

Things are changing hour by hour and it’s often hard to find the most recent information regarding changes coming down the pipeline. However, we are here to relay those messages as quickly as we possibly can to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.

Governor Whitmer has officially announced a State of Emergency, which means Disaster Loan Assistance (low-interest small business loans) should be available soon through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Keep an eye out on https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ if you are interested in applying. These loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the shutdown.

Next, due to an overwhelming number of individuals applying for unemployment, the UIA and Michigan Works is urging residents to please avoid their offices and use online services to apply for unemployment. Your employees can file at this link:  Michigan.gov/UIA . Michigan Works resources can be found at MichiganWorks.org or by calling 1-800-285-WORKS.

Your employees may also apply for financial assistance through USBG National Charity Foundation, which has funds to assist bartenders who meet eligible requirements. That application can be found here: https://www.usbgfoundation.org/beap-application.

Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM®) will also soon announce that it will be donating $1 from every participant trained to a non-profit focused on providing assistance to out-of-work hospitality staff. Although student numbers will be down in Michigan, TAM® is a nationwide program and will continue operating as usual.

Currently, we are searching for more options for financial assistance for all of you and your employees. We are working with the Governor’s Office on a potential spirits buy-back program. We are also urging the governor to remove an exemption that is in most insurance policies. Removing the exemption would require insurance companies to pay for loss of business due to the shutdown.

As of now, bars and restaurants must remain closed until 11:59 p.m. on March 30. If this date changes, we will let you know as soon as we can.

Today, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) issued an order allowing ADAs (RNDC, GLW&S, Imperial) to halt deliveries to on-premises bars and restaurants until the governor re-opens businesses.

Yesterday, MLCC also announced it will be extending annual license expiration dates from April 30 to May 31 to help licensees who have been hurt financially.

Thank you all for your continued support during this crisis. We will continue to monitor all changes and provide you with that information via our email blasts and social media. If you don’t follow us on Facebook, now might be a good time to begin following us.

Stay tuned for a video from MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis tomorrow.

Rick Swindlehurst
MLBA President