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Supervisors OK More Small Business Aid, Pending State, Federal Dollars

A sign thanks patrons of Adams Avenue businesses for following COVID-19 preca...

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: A sign thanks patrons of Adams Avenue businesses for following COVID-19 precautions on the marquee of the shuttered Discount Fabrics in Normal Heights. Dec. 10, 2020.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously voted to provide $30 million in grants to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as soon as federal or state stimulus dollars are available.

County staff will develop the grant program, and each supervisor's office will choose the recipients.

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, who made the proposal along with colleague Joel Anderson, said it was important to support small businesses, who were "asked to sacrifice their livelihoods for the greater good" once the pandemic began.

The county's many mom-and-pop stores "are (the) backbone of our local communities," she added. "This is the right thing to do."

To be eligible, small businesses must employee fewer than 20 people, and comply with state and local public health guidelines.

Supervisor Jim Desmond noted that the 20 employees-or-fewer requirement was a little restrictive, and suggested that businesses with up to 100 employees be eligible. Lawson-Remer said the original number was intentional.

She added there has been a long history of "companies jumping to the head of the line" in terms of funding.

The county program is to "support those really small businesses that are struggling," she said. "We're not trying to support multi-billion dollar companies."

In a related action during their Tuesday meeting, supervisors also unanimously approved a two-month COVID-19 paid leave policy for county employees.

The policy mirrors and extends the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed by Congress last year.

Last year, supervisors approved $47.5 million for a Small Business Stimulus Grant Program, which provided funds to nearly 8,000 businesses in the county.

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