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Escondido offers business grants in COVID-19 relief effort

ESCONDIDO — In an effort to provide support to local business owners, the City of Escondido has awarded grants to more than a dozen small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The program, which was announced on July 16, aims to distribute $1 million in grants to small businesses that need help with costs associated with payroll, commercial rent payments, equipment and supplies.

The city has partnered with the San Diego North Economic Development Council to administer the grants, which are provided with part of the city’s portion of the federal CARES Act.

Escondido joins several other cities in the county that have implemented similar efforts in recent months; the city, however, is one of only a few that opted to create a grant program instead of a loan program.

“Every city is doing the best they can,” said Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara. “There have been cities that implemented loan programs, but with something like that, we had concerns about what if we don’t get paid back — would we then have to spend more money in legal fees trying to recoup our money? The way we saw it, cities are not in the loan business, and we didn’t want to go down that road.”

Businesses are eligible for up to $15,000 in funding, but must be located within the City of Escondido, hold a valid business license, have $1,000,000 or less in gross business revenue and are for-profit businesses, including home-based and sole proprietorships.

Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s deputy director of economic development, told The Coast News that, the city has received almost 200 applications, and 14 businesses have been awarded grant funding in the amount of $141,222.

“The city really recognized a need to support our small businesses in order to get through this really difficult time,” Tarrac said. “We felt like there was a need there and we were able to come to the table and support community.”

Grant applications will be accepted through Aug. 28, or until the funds are expended.

“We’ve gone through several months of people expressing the pain points of what this crisis is doing to them,” McNamara said. “We have a lot of mom-and-pop operations, and people are saying, ‘This is my dream, this is my whole life, I finally got my shop open and I’m afraid I’m going to lose it.’ So, within our abilities, we wanted to try to help keep people afloat through this pandemic.”

Businesses can apply for a grant at the City of Escondido’s website. Applications are also available in Spanish.