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$17 Million Now Available To Help Struggling San Diego County Businesses

Juan Magana of Sierra Madre Cantina in Escondido puts the finishing touches o...

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Above: Juan Magana of Sierra Madre Cantina in Escondido puts the finishing touches on his new outdoor "patio," July 8, 2020.

San Diego County officials are setting aside $17 million in CARES Act dollars to help struggling businesses during the pandemic. It is part of a new small business stimulus program that is now accepting applications.

Businesses and nonprofits applying for grant money must have 100 or fewer employees, be headquartered within the county and have been open for at least a year. Owners must also prove financial hardship.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Applications for grants are available now through Oct. 16. County officials say relief could come within weeks of applying. But some restaurant owners say the help is needed right now, especially with new restrictions closing indoor operations.

RELATED: More Layoffs Expected After Restrictions Targeting Indoor Activities Hit San Diego

Reported by Matthew Hoffman , Video by Andi Dukleth

"The only way a business can survive is by getting customers in and generating some revenue. Without that revenue, it's a little difficult to take care of expenses that occur with running a business," said Juan Magana, the owner of Sierra Madre Cantina in Escondido. "So it’s not something, 'Hey I'm going to fill this out and maybe two or three months down the road I can get the help.' No, the help is needed now."

Magana said it has been tough trying to adapt from closing early and now once again shuttering dining rooms.

"Now we get the orders that we can no longer serve inside, that we can only do to-go orders and outside dining — my place isn’t set up for outside dining," he said.

Just within the last 24 hours, Magana worked with his landlord to set up seating for 28 outside his restaurant, a far cry from the 180 or so people that can be seated inside.

Magana did receive some PPP money to help cover employee wages and will be applying for relief with the county too.

"Any help is helpful to cover the expenses," he said.

$17 million is being evenly split between the county’s five supervisor districts for this stimulus program. Officials said Wednesday each county supervisor will ultimately make decisions on which businesses get the grant funding.

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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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