Nearly 200 Black-owned San Diego businesses have received economic relief amid the coronavirus pandemic thanks to a city fund that has grown past $1 million with the help of hundreds of community donations.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer was joined by Council Member Monica Montgomery and members of the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce (CSDBCC) on Monday to thank the hundreds of individual sponsors and dozens of business sponsors that helped them grow the Black Business Relief Grant Fund to more than $1 million in about two months.
The fund was created in June to offer support to some of the thousands of Black-owned businesses hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) said in a June study that the Black and Hispanic communities were disproportionately impacted by the virus and by unemployment.
"We know particularly that this pandemic has hit our Black and our Hispanic communities very hard and it's clear that we needed to do everything in our power to help all of our businesses come together and thrive through this time," Faulconer said.
The city of San Diego allocated $500,000 of their CARES emergency relief funding to the fund.
Council Member Monica Montgomery, who represents Southeastern San Diego and is the only Black member on the San Diego City Council, noted that it was the first year the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce has received funding from the city of San Diego.
"We have not had our voices amplified but today, we have 1 million reasons to celebrate this achievement and the need that we met by this funding,” Montgomery said.
Donations came from San Diego Grantmakers, Sony Electronics, Cox Communications, and several others. The San Diego Foundation provided $100,000 to the fund while the San Diego Padres donated an initial $19,000 in honor of Mr. Padre, the late Tony Gwynn, said Padres President of Business Operations Erik Greupner.
"When we first learned about the effort of the Black business Relief (Grant) Fund to raise $1 million in two months, it was in the wake of several high profile incidents of racial injustice across our country," Greupner said. "The San Diego Padres are uniquely positioned in our community with our platform to make a difference."
Grants between $1,000 to $5,000 have, so far, been distributed to nearly 200 Black-owned small businesses in San Diego and about 1,000 applications are still pending, Montgomery said.
One of those small businesses is Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream with locations in North Park, Point Loma and Pacific Beach. Owner Averill Williams said that the Black Business Relief Fund didn't only provide him with the money needed to boost him through this pandemic, but it provided him with valuable resources that can keep him moving forward.
"I’m hopeful about the future and I’m thinking about the future regardless of what is in front of us right now," Williams said. "And from what you’ve heard from all the speakers, I think that gives us all a sense of that we’re going to be alright on the back end of this.”
The goal of the Black Business Relief Fund, which was initiated by the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce led by President Donna Debbery, was to help disadvantaged businesses in vulnerable communities reach economic equity, according to the CSDBCC.
"Without proper intervention, the impacts of COVID-19 could become generational, affecting Black and minority communities for decades to come. CSDBCC has developed a blueprint that lays out short and long term strategies to support historically underfunded and underrepresented businesses — those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and socio-economic injustices," the chamber said on their website.
Priority was given to businesses whose net income was less than $100,000 in 2019 and have 10 or fewer employees. Funding is being allocated to businesses by the San Diego Grantmakers.
The grant funds are accompanied by business development assistance, which gives business owners access to financial resources and skills, help with writing business plans and ideas on how to adapt marketing to the current environment.
Recipients so far have included coffee and wine shops, a sports fishing business, professional service companies and 40 percent child care centers. Nearly three-quarters of businesses that have received grants are women-owned, according to the chamber.
Businesses looking for assistance can apply on the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce website. Those who wish to support the fund can learn more on the San Diego Grantmakers website.