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Governor Visits Barrio Logan Business, Is Told ‘We’re Having Issues’

Tocumbo Ice Cream owner Omar Ramirez talks with Governor Gavin Newsom (right)...

Credit: San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas

Above: Tocumbo Ice Cream owner Omar Ramirez talks with Governor Gavin Newsom (right) and San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas (center), Feb. 8, 2021.

Nearly a year after pandemic-related restrictions first hit businesses, there are still limits on many indoor operations. This week, a San Diego business owner was able to talk one-on-one with the man making those decisions.

"He got a lemonade — lemonade with chia," said Omar Ramirez who along with his family owns Tocumbo Ice Cream.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Ramirez said he got a call on Super Bowl Sunday, asking if Gov. Gavin Newsom could come by the next day. Ramirez applied for business relief grant through the state and was recently awarded $15,000. Newsom was in town Monday visiting the Petco Park vaccination site, then hit Tocumbo's Barrio Logan location with San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas.

RELATED: Newsom Says Deal To Reopen Schools Could Arrive By Friday

Ramirez said he is not a political guy and the whole encounter was pretty quick, but he did have the governor's ear for a few minutes.

"He asked some questions, how we were doing and I told him we’re having issues with employees and low sales," Ramirez said. "Hard to keep small businesses when you’re not making any sales. He said he’s trying to work on something."

Ramirez said the Newsom told him he is looking to increase the state's small business grant fund. More than $500 million was allocated for the program, and while applications are currently closed additional funds are expected soon.

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Roland Lizarondo

"It was pretty easy," Ramirez said about the application process. "It was a lot easier than the applications for the federal grants."

Ramirez said anything helps right now.

This week the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to add an additional $30 million to the county's business relief fund, but those grants are available yet. They are contingent on future relief coming from the state or federal government.

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Aired: February 12, 2021 | Transcript

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
Health 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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