Business / Economy

County to allocate $1.5 million in grants for small businesses

Funds will be managed by the Workforce Development Board and disbursed by Aug. 31.
Dulce Alonso said applications will be taken until July 20. Photo by John Chadwell.
Dulce Alonso said applications will be taken until July 20. Photo by John Chadwell.
Supervisor Peter Hernandez said as a small business owner himself he appreciates the difficulties all small businesses have been going through. Photo by John Chadwell.
Supervisor Peter Hernandez said as a small business owner himself he appreciates the difficulties all small businesses have been going through. Photo by John Chadwell.
Supervisor Anthony Botelho said people who did not qualify for PPP money or other grants may qualify for these new grants. Photo by John Chadwell.
Supervisor Anthony Botelho said people who did not qualify for PPP money or other grants may qualify for these new grants. Photo by John Chadwell.

Two San Benito County Supervisors announced at a June 30 press conference the county will begin processing applications starting July 6 for Business Recovery Assistance grants through the federal CARES Act. The grants, ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, are intended for local small businesses that have suffered financial setbacks due to COVID-19. 

There will also be grants for charitable organizations and individuals.

Supervisors Peter Hernandez and Anthony Botelho explained that the Board of Supervisors had allocated $1.5 million in grants and listed the qualifications for applying. They said the Workforce Development Board will manage the grants. Funding will begin no later than Aug. 31. Applications are available on its webpage. 

Funds must be solely used for expenditures that occur between March 1 and Dec. 30, 2020, and fall under one or more of the following categories:

  • Payroll
  • Operating expenses
  • Business lease or rent
  • Business telework equipment costs
  • Inventory acquisition (inventory needed to reopen or maintain open status)
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) purchases
  • Facility readiness (social distancing preparedness, business modifications, etc.)

 

Botelho said he and Hernandez have emphasized that it is important to keep the doors open to not only the designated essential businesses, but all businesses that are important to the community.

“We’re looking forward to distributing these monies to the smaller businesses that might not have qualified for PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] and other programs,” Botelho said. “I want to thank our county staff for their hard work to create a program where it will be easy to get the money out to the people who need it.”

Hernandez said he was excited about the program.

“The ultimate goal was to make sure these funds were distributed to those that were the highest impacted,” Hernadez said. “It’s a long time coming. The weight of the burden of the shelter-in-place has had many implications. I’m personally excited as a small business owner. I appreciate the burdens of not only sheltering-in-place, but now figuring out how to mitigate moving forward with new rules of how to operate our business, to stay open and better serve our customers in a different way.”

Hernandez, owner of Ohana Shave Ice in downtown Hollister, said a small business is defined as having up to 100 employees.

“Brick and mortar is the priority, but we’re not excluding non-brick and mortar,” he said. “We’ll get into the details of the tiered system, but it will basically be anybody who has a business license.”

San Benito County management analyst Dulce Alonzo said the application process will close on July 20.

“We will review the applications and hope businesses will receive their money no later than the last week of August,” she said. “There are criteria that we will use to evaluate the businesses and where they fall in line based on their expenses, where they are and when they reopen.”

Enrique Arreola, deputy director of the Human Health Services Agency, said applications will be screened by county staff before going to a reviewing committee that will award the grants.

“There will be a worksheet that the businesses will complete to show their need during the last couple of months through the end of this year,” he said. “The loans are actually [forgivable] grants for companies to use for eligible expenses.”

If a small business has received a grant for PPE and other items on the above list, it may not apply within that category for those funds.

Hernandez told BenitoLink though his business is eligible to apply for the grant, he will not pursue those funds as he is a decision maker in the process and because his business has been able to weather the shelter-in-place impacts. Neither he, nor Botelho or Alonzo responded on who will select the committee, who will be on the committee and if the county plans to announce the businesses that are awarded grants.

A summary of criteria, conditions, limitations and other requirements is available at the Business Recovery Assistance Grant page.

 

 

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John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: johnchadwell@benitolink.com.