‘It’s a chance we didn’t have before’: Cine El Rey co-owner, Congressman Gonzalez discuss American Rescue Plan

Local News

PHOTO: Cine El Rey via Facebook (July 31, 2020)

Editor’s note: This story previously had incorrect transcriptions of quotes. Since then, it has been updated with the correct wording.

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — On Thursday, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez hosted a press conference to respond to President Joe Biden’s speech to congress.

Bert Guerra, co-owner of The Cine El Rey Theatre was invited by Gonzalez to be a virtual guest for the president’s address on Wednesday.

During Thursday’s press conference, Guerra and Gonzalez focused on the American Rescue Plan Act’s grant that offers aid to shuttered venues.

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant includes over $16 billion to shuttered venues, to be administered by U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance.

Guerra explained that when the pandemic hit last year, Cine El Rey was one of the first to close to comply with safety restrictions.

“We weren’t able to get the aid we needed based on the guidelines first presented, but you had a lot of companies getting aid, and to me, they were all the ‘too big to fail’ kind of companies,” Guerra said.

The co-owner said that Cine El Rey then joined National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), an organization that lobbied and advocated for the “Save Our Stages Act,” now known as the Shuttered Venues Operated Grant.

“Everybody wanted to help, they just didn’t know we weren’t getting help,” Guerra said and Gonzalez agreed.

The funding was approved in law as part of the second COVID-19 relief bill in December 2020, however, businesses like Cine El Rey were able to apply on Monday, because of the guidelines.

Applicants may qualify for grants that equal 45 percent of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million.

“We sacrificed to close and keep people safe, the Rescue Plan is going to give us an opportunity to keep our future safe. That’s all we want, I think that is the American dream,” Guerra said.

Watch the press conference below:

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