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The City of San Luis Obispo, The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County, and the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce are excited to announce a newly formed grant created to provide financial relief to SLO City businesses disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grant applications for the newly formed SLO City Small Business Relief Fund open today, August 10, 2020. 

Through a unique partnership, government, nonprofit and the business community have come together to provide direct funding to small businesses disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The economic impacts of COVID-19 on our local business community are unprecedented” said Derek Johnson, City Manager.  “This program, a true partnership between the City, business and nonprofit communities, provides relief to some of those impacted the most so we can start to recover together, as a community.”

The City of SLO has allocated $200,000 from the CARES Act funding they received to go directly to support the economic stability, recovery and resiliency of SLO City small businesses. Additionally, two private donors have provided a combined total of $60,000. The entire $260,000 will be allocated to fifty-two local businesses, with each awardee receiving a $5,000 grant to help fill immediate financial gaps. None of the partners are charging a fee or administrative cost through the grant process.

“The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County is honored to collaborate with the City and SLO Chamber on the SLO City Small Business Relief Fund” shared Heidi McPherson, CEO of The Community Foundation. “We are pleased to bring philanthropy alongside the government resources to support small businesses in San Luis Obispo.”

In early May, the SLO Chamber executed a similar partnership with local technology company, Comevo, which provided $75,000 in funding to fifteen countywide businesses that experienced detrimental effects of COVID’s economic impact. 

“We are proud to collaborate with the City and The Community Foundation to provide extra help to businesses in their battle to overcome these challenging times, so they can continue to provide jobs and keep their doors open,” said Jim Dantona, President and CEO of the SLO Chamber. “Through these novel collaborations across sectors and industry, we can help keep our business community vibrant.”

Applications for the grant funding will open on Monday, August 10 and will remain open until 5 p.m. on Monday, August 24. All for profit businesses in the City of SLO, not just SLO Chamber members, can see the eligibility criteria and apply here. Recipients will be notified of possible funding in mid-September. 

Businesses of all sizes in San Luis Obispo are experiencing impacts but given the limited resources available, at this time, our small business emergency relief program will prioritize applications based on considerations of the following factors:


  • For-profit businesses owned and operated within the city limits of San Luis Obispo
  • Sole proprietors and/or employers with no more than 25 employees (full- time and part- time)
  • Must be locally and independently owned (businesses not part of a national/regional chain or a franchise preferred)
  • Business has experienced a significant decline in revenues due to COVID-19 beginning January 2020 through the end of July 2020
  • Previous grant recipients from the Comevo and SLO Chamber countywide fund will not be disqualified, although preference will be given to those who have not yet been awarded a grant.

This grant can be used for:

  • Paying rent and utilities
  • Payroll expenses
  • Cost of PPE and cleaning supplies needed to comply with public health guidelines
  • Capital improvements needed to comply with public health guidelines
  • Paying outstanding debt to vendors, if those debts were incurred after March 1, 2020
  • Other immediate operational costs

Other assistance and tools may be available for businesses not qualifying under the small business relief fund — please reach out to the SLO Chamber if you need help connecting with resources for your business.