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San Diego Officials Propose $700K For Small Businesses In Underserved Communities

Mayor Kevin Faulconer at Gentry’s Beauty and Barber Headquarters on July 29, ...

Credit: Office of Mayor Kevin Faulconer

Above: Mayor Kevin Faulconer at Gentry’s Beauty and Barber Headquarters on July 29, 2020, announcing a proposed $700,000 plan to help businesses in underserved communities hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

City officials announced a proposal Wednesday to reallocate $700,000 from San Diego's Small Business Relief Fund toward helping hard-hit businesses in historically underserved communities to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposal, which still requires city council approval, would provide grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, specialized outreach, and technical assistance to business owners.

Listen to this story by Shalina Chatlani.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the funds represented "extra cash in business owners' hands for things like rent, payroll and personal protective equipment." Business owners would also be provided "outreach to help owners comply with all the regulations and connect them with other available relief sources" at the state or federal level, the mayor said.

In early June, the city of San Diego directed about $13 million from the federal CARES Act into a small business relief fund. And they said half of that would go toward helping minority owned businesses.

That money is still being handed out, but in the first rounds of applications, Jason Paguio of the Asian Business Association of San Diego, says many small businesses in undeserved communities were left behind due to language barriers and complications with paper work.

Around half of the $13 million CARES act fund was supposed to go to minority small businesses, but Paguio says, "a lot things were restricted at first and...it prevented new businesses from being able to apply or those that didn’t before."

"This gives us that extra ability to get to businesses that didn’t apply the first time around," he said.

During the press conference, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer noted the disparity among neighborhoods during the pandemic.

"A recent analysis by SANDAG showed that the black and Hispanic residents in our community are four times more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods impacted by COVID-19 and unemployment … for our Asian American residents they are twice as likely as whites," he said.

Faulconer says he’s working with the county of San Diego to match the funds.

Paguio says a lot of minority business owners were left behind in the first round of small business application loans, because the paper work was too complicated or they needed language translators. So he says this targeted funding from that pool of money is intended to help technical assistance.

Considering though that there are millions of dollars in the small business relief fund, Paguio said, "we’re still asking for more money, which is part of the reason why we put in the ask for the county and saying hey can we partner on this."

Eligible businesses must:

— be self-employed, an independent contractor, a sole proprietor, or a corporation with revenues less than $100,000;

— have 10 or fewer employees;

— document a decline in revenue due to COVID-19;

— have been in operation for at least six months.

Reported by Shalina Chatlani , Video by Roland Lizarondo

The city council is slated to consider the reallocation early next month.

"With San Diego's small businesses struggling to survive, we need to do everything we can to help them stay open safely and responsibly as we get through this pandemic together," Faulconer said. "We also want to ensure that every small business in San Diego has equal access to the relief funds so we're reaching out directly to our Black, Latino and Asian business communities to encourage their members to take advantage of this opportunity."

"This is targeted money we can allocate from the city directly to the small businesses, and I think the strategic alliance is the best way to do it," Faulconer said.

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