Businesses will benefit from a San Mateo County grant to help them after suffering losses through business slowdowns related to COVID-19 and the order to stay home.

Pacifica City Council approved the allocation of $150,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for economic initiatives. The city is working with San Mateo County Economic Development Association to develop the option to use the current San Mateo County Strong Business Assistance Program as a vehicle to implement one of City Council’s priorities for the the federal funds that is focused on business assistance, retention and strategic economic recovery, said Kevin Woodhouse, city manager at the City Council meeting where the money was approved Aug. 23.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors recently approved a new round of grants to help small businesses that have not received any assistance from the county, state or federal COVID-19 relief programs in the past 12 months, Woodhouse said.

The small business grant program will provide grants of up to $10,000 to each qualifying business to offset losses in revenue and past-due debt due to COVID-19 pandemic state shutdown orders to ensure continued operation and assist in covering current business operating expenses, said Woodhouse. The eligible uses of the grant are broad and include ensuring continued operation, covering business expenses, including current or past rent, payroll and other ongoing obligations. This grant application period will close at 5 p.m.on Sept. 7, Woodhouse said.

In the first round of business grants funded by San Mateo County Strong, six grants were allocated to Pacifica businesses. City Council authorized an additional $50,000 to help fund five additional grants to support eligible Pacifica businesses. In addition, nine Pacifica businesses received funds through the SMC Strong program that focused on restaurants, breweries and wineries, said Woodhouse. They are Lovey’s Tea Shoppe, Mazzetti’s Bakery, Fog City Yogurt and More, Oasis Vietnamese Cuisine, Fog City Java, Thai Original BBQ, High Tide, Redeye Grill and Paisanos Trattoria and Pizzeria.

“It kept employees. I was behind in rent. It kept the business going,” Redeye Grill owner Hasanen Sinjary said. “It was very helpful.”

At the end of that funding, 22 restaurants remain unfunded. All those businesses would be eligible to apply for this next round of the program if they haven’t received other COVID-19 relief funds, Woodhouse said.

Staff discussed the program details with SAMCEDA to make the program largely accessible to the Pacifica business community with auser-friendly application, Woodhouse said.

The county, SAMCEDA and San Mateo Credit Union are structuring the small business grant process to handle the distribution of grants on a countywide basis, Woodhouse said.

By contributing Pacifica funding through the credit union, the city can leverage the infrastructure being created by the county to get grants into the hands of small business owners quickly to provide stimulation to the local economy. The SMC Strong program has already developed simple eligibility criteria that would offer broad coverage and allow to invest in the local business community, Woodhouse said,

To be eligible, a small business must meet all the following criteria: not receiving a county, state or federal COVID-19 assistance grant, demonstrate negative impact due to the pandemic by providing completed tax returns, have a gross income of less than $120,000 in 2019, have 10 or fewer employees in 2019, and occupy a business space in the county, said Woodhouse. If the business is a franchise, at least 50 percent of the franchisee ownership must be county residents. All permits and health orders must be current. The business must have been in existence before March 11, 2020 when the local state of emergency began.

City Council approved a Pacifica contribution of $150,000 to extend $10,000 grants to 15 more eligible businesses, raising the eligible number of Pacifica businesses from 12 to 27.

The city manager recommended approving the use of federal funds budgeted for small business assistance toward the SMC Small Business Grant Program as this program will provide positive benefits to not only the small businesses awarded the grants, but also to the community at large, Woodhouse said. That’s because those businesses will continue to remain open to provide services to their customers.

To answer a question by Councilmember Mike O’Neill, Woodhouse said these grants will go to for-profit businesses, not nonprofit organizations.

Councilmember Sue Vaterlaus said, “I’m happy we are helping small businesses hurt through COVID-19. This goes to those who have not received grant money. They did suffer a lot.”

San Mateo County Strong gave $10,000 grants to businesses besides restaurants including Anderson’s Swim School, Hacks Auto Body, Family Room Community Acupuncture, Rockaway Beach Optometry, Traveler Surf Club, A Well Adjusted Pet and Thyme Integrative Health.

“It was good to keep everyone employed,” Ian Woodworth, partner owner of Hack’s Auto Body, said.

Jennifer Quirante, optometrist with Rockaway Beach Optometry, said, “The money was extremely helpful and much appreciated. We used it to cover the operating expenses of rent and utilities and staff payroll,”

The Preschool.Grants in $10,000 were given to Neo Immersion Montessori School, Animal Crackers and Little Biscuits, Aminta Nadelman, Early Bird Infant Toddler Center. Sobieski Family Child Care, Gina’s Daycare and Child’s Playce received $5,152.40 grants. Temporary Tot Tending received a $15,328 grant and Terra Nova Christian Day Care a $44,917 grant. The city of Pacifica received the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act passed by Congress, for child care and senior services in the amount of $55,000. Grants were given to daycares for child care relief including a grant of $55,000 to Kids Konnect and Building Kids.

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