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Mayor Faulconer Announces $700K to Help Small Businesses in Historically Underserved Communities

Proposal Includes Direct Grants, Outreach and Aid to Help Hundreds of Businesses Hit Hard by Pandemic

Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - NEWS RELEASE

SAN DIEGO – Continuing to deliver relief to San Diego small businesses impacted by COVID-19, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer joined City Councilmember Monica Montgomery and local business leaders Wednesday to announce $700,000 from the City’s Small Business Relief Fund will go toward helping businesses in historically underserved communities.

The funding will aid recovery efforts for businesses through specialized outreach, technical assistance, and direct grants to possibly hundreds of business owners. The City Council will consider this reallocation of funds in early August. In today’s announcement, Mayor Faulconer issued a challenge to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to match the City’s commitment to help promote inclusive economic recovery efforts in the wake of COVID-19.

“With San Diego’s small businesses struggling to survive, we need to do everything we can to help them stay open safely and responsibly as we get through this pandemic together,” Mayor Faulconer said. “We also want to ensure that every small business in San Diego has equal access to the relief funds so we’re reaching out directly to our Black, Latino and Asian business communities to encourage their members to take advantage of this opportunity.”

With Council approval, a partnership with a nonprofit would be formed to connect businesses facing increased barriers to economic relief with direct grants that could be used to purchase personal protection equipment and cleaning materials, maintain staff on payroll, or meet existing payments like rent and utilities. Grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 would be available for businesses operating in economically vulnerable and historically underserved communities, including San Diego’s Promise Zone, Opportunity Zone, Low- & Moderate-Income Census Tracts and other economic corridors most impacted by COVID-19.

To be eligible, business owners must:

  • Be self-employed, an independent contractor, a sole proprietor, or a corporation with revenues less than $100,000
  • Have 10 or fewer employees
  • Document a decline in revenue due to COVID-19
  • Have been in operation for at least six months

Alongside direct grants, the funding would support citywide specialized outreach to target at-risk businesses by offering informational resources and help identifying relief opportunities. This assistance would come at no cost to the business owner and provide guidance on fee waivers, service vouchers, subsidies and other economic relief programs available including:

  • Paycheck Protection Program
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans
  • Small Business Debt Relief
  • Disaster Relief Loan Guarantee Program
  • Small Business Stimulus Grant Program

“As policymakers, we have the responsibility to design and implement effective measures that support small businesses in these extremely challenging times,” said Councilmember Monica Montgomery. “Minority-owned small businesses face structural challenges that underscore the need for an equitable distribution of funding. Our communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and we must do everything within our power to alleviate the burdens on these businesses to prevent doors from shuttering permanently.”


In a swift response to the businesses forced to close because of the pandemic, Mayor Faulconer created the Small Business Relief Fund to offer support to local employers so they could sustain operations, retain employees and address unforeseen reductions in consumer demand and production. The fund is fueled by emergency relief funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, private donations and available federal funding already accessible to the City. Aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis with 50% of the funding made available by the CARES Act for areas that are in Promise Zone, Opportunity Zone, Low- & Moderate-Income Census Tracts. To date, the Small Business Relief Fund has topped $20 million and has helped more than 1,000 local small businesses.

Wednesday’s announcement is a result of the RECOVER Advisory Group, assembled by Mayor Faulconer and County Board of Supervisors Chair Greg Cox in April to give voice to organizations representing thousands of businesses and their employees as they try to recover and restart the economy. One of the group’s major goals was to identify opportunities to ensure that economic recovery efforts are inclusive and accessible to all businesses, including those in historically underserved communities.

What business leaders are saying:

“Our organization started a Black Business Relief Fund to support and provide technical assistance to these historically underfunded businesses during these unprecedented times,” said Donna DeBerry, President of the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce. “Mayor Faulconer has demonstrated inclusive leadership by prioritizing outreach and resources to the most vulnerable and underfunded businesses. This will help flatten the economic disparity curve and ensure an equitable recovery.

“San Diego is home to more than 30,000 Asian and Pacific Islander (API) owned businesses. Early on, our organization experienced capacity challenges because of the increased demand for COVID-19 disaster relief support and technical assistance services in multiple languages for API small businesses,” said Jason Paguio, President of the Asian Business Association of San Diego. “We're thankful for Mayor Faulconer’s thoughtful leadership in prioritizing resources to historically underserved communities to ensure a more inclusive economic recovery.”

“Day to day our city's most fragile businesses and organizations are falling into the depths of the fault created by this pandemic,” said Iris Garcia, President of the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “For those still grasping to keep it together for their entities and employees this aid is for you. Micro to minority-owned outfits all need to know about these funds and now more than ever sharing is caring for our community's vitality and sustainability."

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