New COVID-19 assistance available to small businesses in San Luis Obispo

Posted at 4:56 AM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 13:02:42-04

The application window is now open for small businesses in the City of San Luis Obispo to apply for new COVID-19 assistance.

A pot of $260,000 will ultimately be distributed among as many at 52 applicants.

SLO Chamber CEO Jim Dantona said the funds, which are a combination of public and private dollars, are a hand up to businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

"They may be open for business but they're definitely not seeing the revenues and income they saw previously," Dantona said.

Many small businesses are barely holding on as the pandemic wages war on the nation's economy.

Nearly two dozen shops in Downtown San Luis Obispo have been shuttered in the face of a financial downturn.

For the survivors, this new funding source may offer a bit of shelter from the storm.

"They don't have the backing, financial capability to weather a storm of this size," Dantona said. "While we know $5,000 doesn't solve all the problems, we know from previous experiences, it will help move them another step further."

In total, $200,000 is being injected into the city through the CARES Act and the other $60,000 comes from two private donors.

Each business selected to receive funds will cash in on $5,000 to be used on any qualifying business expense.

"Your payroll, rent, utilities, any normal expenditure will all be available to it," Dantona said.

"We have an evaluation committee put together with reps from city, Chamber, and Community Foundation who will review all the applications from the small businesses," SLO Community Foundation Chief Heidi McPherson said.

What McPherson calls the three legs of the stool -- public, private, and county -- are coming together to support small businesses.

"We have the city government, the chamber, and private philanthropy, and the three legs of this stool are going to lift up small businesses," McPherson said.

Businesses with less than 25 employees are eligible to apply for the funds.

"We want to make it available to folks as fast as possible because we know how urgently they're needed, but additionally, some restrictions on the cares money that the city has taken in will need us to expend it by end of October," Dantona said.

In May, the SLO Chamber distributed $75,000 in funding donated by Comevo, a local tech company, to 15 countywide businesses for COVID-19 relief.

Click here to apply, the deadline is August 24.