HONOLULU (KHON2) — If you’re unemployed, the state’s newest economic plan is looking to keep money in your bank account, and food in your stomach.
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If you qualified for unemployment insurance since March 25 and are still receiving benefits, you’ll soon be getting the Hawaii Restaurant Card in the mail. It will come pre-loaded with $500 and it can only be spent at any restaurant in Hawaii.
State officials reported that $75,000,000 of the CARES Act money will be used to fund the program. The goal is to help stimulate the economy, give a boost to businesses and keep local families fed.
“According to the UHERO study that evaluated the program, it would nearly double its economic impact for our local businesses,” said Hawaii Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Sherry Menor McNamara.
The card functions like a debit card. Residents can use it to pay their restaurant bill and tip, and the total will be taken out of the card’s balance. That money goes to the restaurant, and with many local farmers providing goods, it should keep supply chains intact.
“We are encouraging restaurants to create their own offers and promotions around the card to drive traffic to their businesses, which will in turn will result in even more money being spent in our economy,” said Hawaii Agricultural Foundation Executive Director Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi.
The Hawaii Restaurant Association called it a win-win situation.
“It will go a long way in terms of making sure that our restaurants stay open, and we keep our restaurant employees, stay employed,” said HRA board member Victor Lim.
Keola Warren runs Moke’s Bread & Breakfast in Kaimuki. He said that he’s excited for the program, but he also wants customers to be mindful of where they use it.
“There’s a lot of businesses that are that are here locally that are not local businesses so I hope that people also take that into account,” Warren said. “By going to a mom and pop, or by going to a locally owned business, that money stays in our local economy.”
Officials said that you won’t have to apply for the card.
Cards will be coming in the mail in the next couple of weeks to those who qualify. They’re valid from Oct. 20 to Dec. 15 at 11:59 p.m. or when the card’s funds are exhausted.