The City of SLO and San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce came together again to provide a second round of grants to small businesses disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant recipients for the SLO City Small Business Relief Fund were notified on Friday, February 5. With this second round of grants, the SLO City Small Business Relief Fund has delivered $841,000 in direct funding to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has been a tremendously tough first year of business between our late opening and a once-in-a-century pandemic,” said Jake Hildebrand, owner of 1865 Craft House + Kitchen. “However, we see the undeniable light at the end of the tunnel, and are thrilled that this grant can help us jumpstart our operations once again. We are so thankful to the City and SLO Chamber for their dedication to supporting small businesses, and recognition of them as the backbone of our community.”
Some recipients stated they will use the funds to pay outstanding invoices, hire back staff and refresh their inventory. Nearly a year into this pandemic, businesses continue to feel the ongoing economic effects and many businesses reported the grant will help them to just keep their doors open.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on our local, small business community, this second round of funding will provide some relief to support the economic stability, recovery and resiliency of SLO City small businesses,” said City Manager Derek Johnson. “The City and the SLO Chamber will continue to work together to help support small businesses so our community can recover, together.”
The application, open from December 23 – January 8, once again saw an overwhelming response with more than 525 businesses applying to receive a grant. Through a rigorous, weeks-long process, City and Chamber representatives participated in several rounds of reviews, finally arriving at the one hundred, $5,000 recipients. Click here to view a full list of the recipients.
More than 40% of businesses reported applying for the first round of grants in September, though applying for and even receiving that grant did not necessarily disqualify them from this round. Among the qualifications, the review committee took into consideration the businesses’ positive impact on the community at large, how they reported they would use the funds, and any partial or total closure the business endured.
Due to the overwhelming need and record-breaking number of applications — after making the final determinations for the initial grants — the City and Chamber felt it necessary to procure additional funding. The City, working with The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County, a generous private donor and the Chamber were able to allocate an additional 81 small businesses $1,000 supplemental grants. Click here to view a full list of the recipients.
“I feel incredibly grateful to be offered this $1,000 grant and will be able to put the funds to use immediately to cover commercial lease obligations. This will also benefit the other practitioners who share the space as well as support the property owner and the integrity of the building for the other tenants,” said Angela Bothwell, owner of Banyan Tree Healing Center. “It’s like the butterfly effect — the idea that one small impact expands to result in a greater expansion of impacts. I have no doubt that all the grants distributed will create positive ripples throughout the local community.”
At this time, additional rounds of funding have not been scheduled, however the SLO Chamber would ask that any other businesses or citizens who would like to offer financial support please reach out. The vast majority of the funds for the SLO City Small Business Relief Fund were allocated from the recently passed Local Revenue Measure (G-20).
“The last year has brought challenges that none of us ever imagined,” said SLO Chamber President/CEO Jim Dantona. “Our community is unique because of our small businesses, and we are proud of the way we’ve been able to work with government, business and nonprofit to find creative ways of supporting the business community through this unprecedented and challenging time.”