County supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved almost $3.9 million to help up to 1,550 microbusinesses, including those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of a grant program partially funded by a state office.
Supervisors approved a total of $3.875 million to provide grants of $2,500 each to eligible businesses. The California Office of the Small Business Advocate is also providing partial funding for the county grant program.
To qualify, businesses must have earned less than $50,000 in 2019, be the owner's primary source of income, and have five or fewer employees, this year and in 2019 through 2021.
Microbusiness owners would also be eligible if they were significantly impacted by COVID-19 and haven't received any grant money from the state Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program.
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The grants could benefit businesses such pet sitting, professional shopping, cleaning and home health care, and sidewalk vendors or food cart operators.
According to Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher's office, business owners can use the money to purchase equipment, invest in working capital, apply for new permits, or for debts and costs accrued because of COVID-19. The funds will be prioritized for those in rural areas, low-income or low-wealth communities, and businesses majority-owned and operated by veterans, women or persons of color, according to the county.
"Small business owners have endured a lot the last two years," Fletcher said in a statement. "When you're a business owner that employs fewer than five full-time workers, the margins can be thin, and every dollar matters. It is a small step we can take to support our local entrepreneurs."
Grants will be distributed equally among the five supervisorial districts, with outreach planned at public events, farmer's markets and libraries, and through community groups and door-to-door canvassing.
As part of a county contract, Southwestern College's Small Business Development Center will collect and process online applications. The college will also conduct outreach, and be assisted by the Asian Business Association of San Diego, the Logan Heights Community Development Corporation, the South County Economic Development Council and the San Diego East County Economic Development Council.
Grants must be distributed this year, with the first application process running from Feb. 15 through March 31. There will be another application period if grant money is left over after the first round.
Eligible businesses owners may apply here.