The Coast News Group
Diamond Environmental Services
Diamond Environmental Services were denied a loan in order to provide funds for businesses with greater need. File photo
Cities Community San Marcos San Marcos Featured

San Marcos goes big on small business aid

SAN MARCOS — Over the past three months, the City of San Marcos has distributed nearly $3 million in low-interest loans to 120 local businesses, as part of its COVID-19 Business Sustainability Program.

The program, launched March 24, gave first priority to businesses especially impacted by government ordered lockdowns, according to the city’s web site.

San Marcos’ $3 million to small businesses more than doubles Oceanside’s $1.2 million through a similar loan program, though Oceanside’s population of roughly 176,000 nearly doubles San Marcos’ 97,000.

In San Marcos, loan amounts range from $2,000 to $50,000, with a median of $24,000, according to the city’s June 29 response to The Coast News’ public records request. Interest rates range from zero percent to 3.5 percent, depending on the loan amount and repayment duration.

Loan recipients include a number of eateries, gyms, salons and barbers. Numerous other kinds of businesses also received city loans, such as San Diego Music Studio, Advanced Veterinary Care of San Elijo, Sun Smile Dental Group, Bassett (home furnishings), Black Oxide Service (industrial metal coating), Christenson Surfboards, GotUWired (audio/video/security) and Digitainment (home entertainment).

The city denied applications from 15 businesses, most often because the city wished to reserve program capacity for businesses with greater need. Denied businesses include, for example, Diamond Environmental Services (porta-potty rentals and other services), Mitre’s Fence, Statewide Fumigation, and ASAP Drain Guys & Plumbing.

In order to receive a city loan, businesses had to promise to spend the money “to the benefit of the business physically located in San Marcos,” according to the city’s web site.

The program has exhausted its city council approved funding and stopped accepting applications May 7.

The county government on May 20 allotted to San Marcos $1.7 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Of that amount, the council on June 23 unanimously approved $1 million (58 percent) as an additional aid to local businesses.

According to the city’s expenditure plan: “To further assist our local economy in recovery, the city would like to provide relief to our [COVID-19 Business Sustainability Program] borrowers by utilizing a portion of the CARES sub-grant funds to turn a portion of their loans into grants. Essentially, utilizing the CARES sub-grant funds to pay off a portion of their individual loan amount, for them.”

The city also earmarked portions of its CARES dollars for paid sick/family/medical leave for public employees (13 percent); disinfection of public areas/facilities and other coronavirus related public safety measures (12 percent); telework capabilities for public employees (10 percent); and the remainder for various other purposes.

The city did not earmark any CARES funding for medical and protective supplies, COVID-19 frontline worker payroll, or COVID-19 mitigation for homeless populations.