Business stands to gain relief from county grant program

Tulare County announces $7.5 million available for small businesses negatively affected by the coronavirus

VISALIA – Businesses everywhere were caught off guard by the global pandemic. After taking a wave of closures in March which have continued on in one way or another, some businesses are looking for any help they can get.

Last week, Tulare County followed suit with some of their rural county neighbors. During a July 15 press conference, county officials launched their $7.5 million small business grant program.

“Tulare County intends to provide this support to small businesses in the form of grants up to $5,000 for reimbursement of eligible COVID-19 operating expenses and to cover future expenses related to implementing COVID-19 health and safety measures within the business,” a county press release stated.

The Tulare County Workforce Investment Board was tapped by the county to administer the Tulare County Small Business Grant Program.

“This is a win for the Tulare County business community as well as community members. We appreciate working with the [County Administrative Officer] and the action of the Board of Supervisors, which shows a real commitment to the physical and economic health of our communities,” Adam Peck, Executive director of the WIB noted.

Officials estimate the $7.5 million in grants can help up to 300 businesses per supervisorial district.

“We are happy to be able to provide this resource to businesses within our community,” Pete Vander Poel, Chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, said. “The businesses that are going to be benefiting from this are businesses who have not been served by any of the other relief programs that have come in response to this disaster. We really are trying to assist those businesses who have slipped through the cracks.”

Eligible businesses include for-profit and non-profit businesses with 20 full-time employees or less, as well as independent contractors. Applicants must attest to a loss of net revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the business for which the applicant is seeking funding is the primary source of income, be physically located in Tulare County with a demonstrated economic need, and prove they have been in operation prior to March 2020.

Grant funding may be used to cover businesses expenses incurred between March 19-Sept. 30, 2020, such as:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Cleaning and disinfectant supplies
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Social distancing re-configuration
  • Costs associated with limiting cash-handling.

Tulare County wasn’t the first to follow through on the idea. On May 12, Fresno County implemented their small business grant program aimed to help local businesses recover. They funded the program through the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act legislation.

The city of Fresno did the same thing in April, scratching the surface of the problem with $750,000. Fresno followed it up with a $2 million second round of microloans for the community’s small businesses. That second round has been declared closed now, and are no longer accepting applications.

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