On July 23, Mayor London N. Breed and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development announced over $4.5 million in financial relief for more than 560 small businesses in the latest round of small business grants. The Small Business Relief Grants are expected to award over 700 businesses once the application review is complete. Funds can be used for rent relief, payroll, equipment, utilities and bills, and any other expenses needed to stay open, operate their business, and continue to serve the community.
“From the beginning of this pandemic, when we had to lock down the City to keep our residents safe, we knew that it was going to have a major impact on our small businesses and their employees,” said Mayor Breed. “That’s why we’ve been doing everything we can as a city, from waiving millions in fees to passing important legislation like Prop H and Shared Spaces. Our small businesses are going to lead our economic recovery, and these grants are going to help make that happen.”
The goal of the San Francisco Small Business Relief Fund is to provide immediate relief to help stabilize small business operations by offering grants of $5,000, $10,000, or $25,000. The fund targets anchor small businesses that contribute to the culture and vibrancy of neighborhood commercial corridors such as the Bayview, Central Market/Tenderloin, Chinatown, Excelsior, Lower Fillmore, Mission or in cultural districts including Japantown, Calle 24, SoMa Pilipinas, Transgender, Leather & LGBTQ, Castro LGBTQ, American Indian, and African American Arts and Cultural.
It also supports small businesses operated by people of color, women, long-standing businesses and storefronts, those most impacted by Stay-at-Home orders, and those excluded from or otherwise unable to access state and federal programs.
Over 50% of the grant recipients so far are women-owned, and nearly 80% are minority-owned small businesses that operate on thin margins. The program received a total of 843 applications and expects to award a total of over 700 businesses once the review process is complete.
“Delivering relief to our small businesses offers a lifeline essential to San Francisco’s recovery and infuses funding right into the hearts of our neighborhoods, said Assessor-Recorder Joaquín Torres. “After so much sacrifice to help protect public health, these grants are helping our small businesses bring jobs back into the community, vitality to our neighborhoods and with it the hope that better days are ahead. With this needed support, small businesses can drive the recovery we all want to see and make our city shine.”
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of San Francisco neighborhoods and employ hundreds of thousands of workers. For immigrants, women, people of color and working-class San Franciscans, running a small business is often an alternative to minimum wage jobs and can be a unique path to building wealth for their families and their communities. These grants will help small businesses get back on their feet and keep our neighborhood commercial corridors active and vibrant,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen.
Breed led a supplemental appropriation that included this grant program, and a zero-interest loan program to provide small businesses with working capital to help offset losses resulting from the pandemic. In July, the San Francisco Small Business Recovery Loan Fund was launched with the California Rebuilding Fund, which leverages investments to maximize the available loans for small businesses.
Working with State-backed lending partners and local community-based partners, the City has now leveraged additional funding to offer small businesses zero-interest loans ranging up to $100,000. Small businesses can apply online at www.CALoanFund.org.
The program is being administered through the California Rebuilding Fund in partnership with KIVA and local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), including Main Street Launch, Mission Economic Development Agency, CDC Small Business Finance, Pacific Community Ventures, and the National Asian American Coalition.
“These funds will help me hire three more employees and extend my hours. During the pandemic I had to cut my hours because I didn’t have employees and business was so slow,” said Lamea Abuelrous, owner of Temo’s Café. “Now I have more foot traffic and my customers are asking me to stay open later. I have a lot of support from the community, I will also be remodeling my shop, painting, buying new tables and chairs.”
“The Small Business Relief Fund has been a lifeline for many of our small businesses—providing urgent capital to keep them open and operating while also keeping workers on payroll,” said Kate Sofis, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “Our small businesses are not out of the woods, the need for additional financial relief extends beyond this pandemic. Through the leadership of Mayor Breed and the Board of the Supervisors, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development will continue to program additional investments and make available more grant dollars with our community partners for our small business community in the months ahead.”
“The SF Relief Grant highlights the Mayor’s ability to listen and respond to what small businesses on the ground were in desperate need of,” said William Ortiz-Cartagena, San Francisco Small Business Commissioner. “The application process was simple therefore making the process equitable! This grant will allow our businesses in the most disadvantaged communities, that were hardest hit by the pandemic, live to fight another day. Gracias.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, San Francisco has provided immediate and ongoing support for small businesses, including making available more than $52.8 million in grants and loans to support more than 3,000 small businesses, in addition to tens of millions of dollars in fee and tax deferrals, and assistance applying for state and federal funding. This includes legislation introduced and signed by Mayor Breed to waive $5 million in fees and taxes for entertainment and nightlife venues and small restaurants.
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