Vista City Council Approves COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program

VISTA – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic hitting small businesses, Vista City Council recently approved a grant program to help ease financial hardship.

The board approved its COVID-19 Small Business Grants Program at its September 14 meeting, offering grants between $ 1,000 and $ 25,000 for qualifying small businesses.

The city received $ 26.1 million from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, which came from the US $ 1.9 trillion bailout law enacted by President Joe Biden on March 11.

City council approved the allocation of $ 3 million in recovery dollars to fund its program for small businesses. Applications are on a first come, first served basis and must be submitted through the Vista Chamber of Commerce starting Nov. 1, according to Kevin Ham, director of economic development.

“It would remain open until all grant funds are spent or 18 months, whichever comes first,” Ham said.

To qualify, applicants must be an independent for-profit business, have more than 100 employees (preferably companies of 20 or less), have a valid business license, and be mandated by government action to close or significantly change their business activity due to the pandemic and provide evidence of it, according to the staff report.

Additionally, companies must document their losses and how the funds will be used for recovery, and bonus points are awarded to underserved groups such as women, minorities and veteran-owned small businesses, Ham said. .

Ham said the program has three tiers, which include businesses opened before and after March 15, 2020, as well as home or national and / or regional franchises with local ownership.

Another part of the process is to score companies on a matrix that spans multiple categories. The matrix, which determines the amount of the subsidy, is based on the three levels and the percentage of lost income.

Ham said an income statement is required, as well as a viable recovery plan and other documents may be requested. Candidates can also be interviewed, if necessary, by the chamber, city or a municipal auditor.

“If the company does not own the land… it will have to affirmatively state that it is not in arrears with rent,” Ham added. “If the business is late, the business must use 50% of the subsidy funds for rent.”

The chamber, he said, will verify that the business is in good standing with the owner. Ham said they didn’t want to give money to a trade subsidy just to see them kicked out.

However, a move can be disclosed as part of a company’s turnaround plan, he added.

City Councilor Corinna Contreras asked why nonprofits were not included. Ham said the recommendation was that the board allocate money and staff and develop a grant program specific to nonprofits.

He said there were about 75 nonprofits in Vista.

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