City establishes small business grant program

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Seal Beach has created a small business grant program.

The City Council on Monday, June 22, voted unanimously to approve a resolution to create of a Business Relief Grant program.

The director of the Community Development Department said the city hopes to have the funds distributed by the end of July.

The city has received $562,000 in CARES Act money from Orange County, according to the Community Development Director Les Johnson’s staff report to the City Council.

During his verbal presentation to the council, Johnson said the funding would benefit approximately 60 to 80 businesses. The amount of money available will depend on the size of the employees and compliance with guidelines for reopening.

Among the requirements for grant applicants, according to Johnson, the businesses must be for-profit, must be physically located in Seal Beach and must have 30 or fewer employees.

Johnson said if there are more applications than funds, a lottery system will be implemented.

There are about 1,700 currently licensed businesses in Seal Beach, according to Johnson’s written report.

As his report points out, COVID-19 shutdowns have hit the Seal Beach Community hard.

“Seal Beach is home to hundreds of small businesses that have been required to close their doors or significantly restrict operations as a result of COVID-19 and the State’s stay-at-home order. As a result, these businesses are struggling to maintain rent, utilities, payroll, and other basic operational costs,” Johnson wrote.

The  city will use the Orange County/Inland Empire Small Business Development Center to distribute the CARES Act funds to small Seal Beach businesses.

The service will be free, according to the development director’s report.

Johnson wrote that Seal Beach doesn’t have the staff to promote, manage or audit the grant program.

Orange County/Inland Empire Small Business Development Center is small business assistance network in the United States that “is funded in part by the United States Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration,” according to Johnson’s report.

“The OCIE SBDC typically charges a 2% fee for their services. However, the OCIE SBDC was just notified that they’ll be receiving additional CARES Act funding from the Small Business Administration and are able to provide their services free of charge,” Johnson wrote.

“The recent receipt of approximately $562,000 in CARES Act funding from Orange County requires use of these funds for the purpose of providing small business grants to assist with covering operational costs that are unable to be paid due to COVID-19,” Johnson wrote.

“I think this is one of the few programs I’ve ever seen that essentially covers all the bases,” said District One Councilman Joe Kalmick.

Chamber reaction

“On the record, we think it’s  a wonderful opportunity to assist those businesses that were unable to take advantage of the PPP  and EIDN Loan programs,” wrote Kori DeLeon, president of the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce, in a Monday afternoon email to the Sun.

“It’s aligned to be very similar to several other communities as they also unveil grants in their cities.   It’s going to put much needed funds in business owner’s hands right at a time when businesses are ordering additional inventory,” DeLeon wrote.