The Coast News Group
Cute Cakes
Cute Cakes Bakery & Café in Escondido was a recipient of Escondido’s business grant program. The local business was one of 100 small businesses that received grants intended for business owners who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Cute Cakes Bakery & Café

Escondido’s COVID-19 grant program helped 100 small businesses

ESCONDIDO — The City of Escondido recently wrapped up its $1 million business grant program, which awarded grants to 100 small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The city first introduced the program in July to provide support to small business owners who needed help with payroll costs, commercial rent payments and capital costs.

Escondido partnered with the San Diego North Economic Development Council to administer the grants, which were funded by part of the city’s portion of the federal CARES Act.

The program officially concluded on Aug. 28 with 100 business helped and all of the $1 million used, according to Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s deputy director of economic development.

“We received a lot of feedback and words of gratitude from businesses who received the grants,” Tarrac said. “It’s been a really difficult time for businesses, but they are the backbone of our economic vitality and our community, so we wanted to make every effort to support them in this really difficult time.”

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

Tarrac told The Coast News that, because the city eventually ran out of funding, not all of the businesses that applied received grants.

Cute Cakes Bakery & Cafe was one of the lucky ones. CEO Jill Reilly said she was approved for the grant within a week of applying and received her money less than a week after that.

“We received $15,000 and used all of it toward payroll. I needed to keep my people coming to work, and I’m hoping this buys us a little bit more time until we can get more business back in here,” Reilly said.

Cute Cakes, located on Escondido’s Grand Avenue, has been operating since 2010 and is now open for outdoor dining and indoor dining at reduced capacity.

“It’s been a little gift to keep me going, and we’re so grateful for how supportive the city has been with everything going on,” Reilly said. “And with this grant, I’ve been able to retain most of my employees and make sure that they are still taken care of.”