Gov. Gavin Newsom has pushed back the deadline for small businesses to apply for the first round of Covid-19 relief grants.
The due date has been extended from Friday to 11:59pm Jan. 13.
Details for the second round will be announced shortly.
On Nov. 30, Newsom and the state Legislature announced that $500 million was available to small businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The program is administered by California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, part of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.
“Inclusive, equitable relief is fundamental to the small business support developed by this administration,” CalOSBA Director Isabel Guzman said. “This grant program provides that support through a network of community development financial institutions and community-based organizations, ensuring reach to those highly impacted small businesses in disadvantaged communities, underserved small business groups, and industries disproportionately impacted by this pandemic.”
The California Small Business Covid-19 Relief Grant Program provides grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. Grants are not being reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis but all will be reviewed, state officials said Monday.
So many businesses were trying to complete the application online that website traffic was high, and some businesses may have had trouble accessing the application, according to the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.
Adjustments have been made to the website and the deadline extended so that everyone interested can apply, state officials said.
Help with the application process is available in multiple languages and formats. For more information on grant requirements and eligibility, please visit careliefgrant.com.
Santa Clara County, meanwhile, is complementing the grant effort by inviting small businesses to apply for low-interest loans of up to $100,000.
The loans, provided through the state-backed California Rebuilding Fund, stem from a program proposed this past fall by county supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Joe Simitian.
“These small businesses are the backbone of our communities,” Simitian said in announcing the lending initiative, “providing employment and economic stability for hundreds of thousands of residents across the county.”
The state Rebuilding Fund is a public-private coalition that steers money from private, philanthropic and government entities—including a $25 million core commitment and $50 million guarantee from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank)—to community lenders, including San Jose’s Accion Opportunity Fund. Those local lenders, in turn, direct those resources to small businesses.
Santa Clara County put up an initial $6 million investment to ensure that a significant share of those loans go to South Bay businesses. “We need all the state and federal help we can get, but by using these local dollars as well we can make sure local businesses and their employees make their way to the top of the list,” Simitian said.
The North County representative said he plans to push for additional investments at next week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
Simitian said the California Rebuilding Fund appealed to him because it largely guarantees repayment—at least 95 percent will be returned regardless of loan performance. The initiative also allows the repaid funds to be loaned again and again, which stands to multiply the county’s participation as time goes on.
If the county keeps it up, recycling repayments into new debt, Simitian said it could end up funding up to $100 million in loans. “In that way,” he said, “I think we can be both bold and prudent at the same time.”
Luz Urrutia, CEO of Accion Opportunity Fund, said the nation needs small businesses to pull it through tough times—but they need all the help they can get. And community-based lenders, like Accion Opportunity Fund, play an important role because of their relationship with local entrepreneurs, she added.
“Small businesses have been the driving force behind every economic recovery, including leading the way out of the Great Recession,” Urrutia said in a press release sent to reporters Monday. “They can do it again, but not without an intentional effort to reach and support them—especially businesses owned by people of color, immigrants and women, most of which have been left behind by federal relief efforts.”
The loans provided through the county range from from $2,000 to $100,00, have a 4.25 percent interest rate and a three-to-five-year term option. To qualify, businesses must have 50 or fewer full-time employees and must have had less than $2.5 million in revenues in 2019. For more information, go to caloanfund.org.
“My hope is that we can get the word out to small business owners that these funds are available now and are relatively easy to apply for,” Simitian said. “I know people are hurting, and these funds are a step in the right direction.”
Jennifer Wadsworth contributed to this report.