San Diego

San Diego Dedicates $6M in CARES Act Funds to Small Businesses in Underserved Communities

El Carrito Restaurant in Barrio Logan.

The San Diego City Council voted to allocate more than $6 million in federal coronavirus relief money to small businesses serving low and moderate-income communities.

The city's Coronavirus Small Business Relief fund launched March 27 and accepted applications from small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The council initially allocated $6.1 million to be doled out in increments from $1,000 to $10,000 in grants, and forgivable or low- to zero-interest-rate loans to eligible small businesses for working capital.

To be eligible, a business must have fewer than 100 employees, be impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic and must be based in the city of San Diego. The city received more than 10,000 applications in three weeks, "far exceeding available funding,'' according to the city.

The city then allocated nearly $13 million of the $248.45 million in CARES Act money to the small business relief fund, and on Tuesday announced it was reserving half of that $13 million for businesses serving low and moderate income neighborhoods.

"Not only must we help our economy recover from the COVID-19 crisis, we must also help our nation acknowledge and act on systemic racism – systemic racism that has held back far too many Americans from their true potential," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.

As of Monday, the fund had given assistance to 273 businesses "with proven financial hardship'' with an average staff of 7.2 full-time employees, city officials said.

Councilman Chris Cate said he appreciated the fund for helping to keep businesses open, but implored the city to have consideration for minority-owned businesses.

Counciwoman Vivian Moreno agreed, stating that of the 273 businesses to receive small business relief funds, fewer than 10 were District 8, which encapsulates Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, San Ysidro and other historically underserved neighborhoods.

In May, Faulconer proposed using $189 million in relief funds for COVID-19-related operational expenses such as personnel and supplies, $50 million to continue housing the homeless at the San Diego Convention Center and $5 million for child care services for essential workers.

"Child care, housing and employment are critical needs right now,'' Faulconer said at the time.

On Monday, the council voted 8-1 to approve Faulconer's revised budget, including a $27 million increase in police funding.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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