Supervisors approve additional $20M for small business stimulus grants

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting November 25 and approved an additional $20 million for the San Diego County Small Business Stimulus Program.

The 5-0 vote approved the amended program, authorized the county’s Chief Administrative Officer to execute grant agreements with qualifying businesses, appropriated $20 million from the 2019-20 general fund balance for the program, and directed that any additional state or Federal funding be prioritized to replenish the general fund. The additional grants will be given to businesses or non-profit organizations which have been impacted by the transition from the “red tier” to the “purple tier” which prohibits indoor activities.

“The $20 million is really a bridge,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

The San Diego County Small Business Stimulus Program provides financial assistance to businesses and non-profit organizations to fund public health and response activities associated with the coronavirus outbreak. The county had previously allocated $17 million for each county supervisor to designate $3.4 million of appropriations for businesses or non-profit organizations which submitted applications. Federal funding from the CARES Act (CARES stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) was used for the San Diego County Small Business Stimulus Program grants.

The purple tier prohibits indoor non-staff activities at restaurants, gyms and other fitness centers, movie theaters, museums, zoos, and aquariums. Many of these businesses or non-profit institutions lack the additional capacity to have outdoor operations.

“We find ourselves in a situation that none of us created and none of us like,” said Supervisor Greg Cox.

Many of the businesses are in jeopardy of permanent closure unless emergency funding is received. The eligible expenses for the San Diego County Small Business Stimulus Program include payroll assistance, outstanding invoices, personal protective equipment, specialized cleaning supplies, and costs associated with moving operations outdoors.

The $20 million will allow up to $4 million in each of the five supervisorial districts. The county’s Website will have a centralized application process, and the county’s Office of Financial Planning will provide a weekly summary of applications received for each supervisorial district.

The program is limited to businesses including non-profit organizations with fewer than 100 employees. The business must be headquartered in San Diego County and have been operating since February 14, 2019. The business must demonstrate financial hardship due to the coronavirus restrictions and must have been impacted by the transition from the red tier to the purple tier.

“In the interim I think this is one small step we could take,” Cox said.

“I think it’s good to allocate these emergency funds to businesses that are struggling,” said Supervisor Jim Desmond. “They aren’t looking for anything free. They want their livelihood back.”