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Encinitas to provide $75,000 in new grants to small businesses impacted by pandemic

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(Karen Billing)

Encinitas will contribute $75,000 to restart a community grant program for small businesses facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City Council unanimously decided Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear said the city’s small businesses are desperate for help right now, and Councilman Tony Kranz said the state’s new restrictions on business activity are likely to linger given the soaring number of virus cases in California in recent days.

“It’s having significant impacts again and I do expect it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he said.

Facing a rapidly shrinking number of unoccupied hospital beds in California due to rising coronavirus case numbers, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced the state’s strictest lockdown measures since the early days of the pandemic. In San Diego County, new restrictions have shut down outdoor restaurant dining and hair salons, and restricted capacity in retail stores to 20 percent.

The $75,000 that the council plans to use to assist small business will come out of the nearly $1.9 million that Encinitas has received from state and federal governments this year to help it address the public health emergency. This is the second time the city has funded a small business grant program during the pandemic. The council previously allocated $500,000 for small businesses and gave away 200 grants, each totaling $2,500.

Any registered small business in Encinitas with 25 or fewer employees and “customer serving premises” that was forced to shut down or had to severely modify its operations due to the pandemic was eligible for those grants.

The new program will be much smaller, with individual grants proposed to each total $1,500. It will be administered by The Cardiff-by-the-Sea Foundation, which has worked with the Harbaugh Foundation to collect more than $100,000 in donations this year and distributed that money as grants to needy businesses, a staff report states.

A representative for the city, plus representatives for each of the city’s three 101 Main Street organizations as well as the Chamber of Commerce will review the new grant applications. Successful applicants will not need to be members of any of those organizations, but funding priority may be given to businesses that have participated in community events, the staff report notes. Applicants must have customer-serving premises in the city and 25 or fewer employees.

Councilwoman Kellie Shay Hinze praised the Cardiff program’s recent grant operation, calling it “nimble and creative,” and Annika Walden, foundation president and executive director of the Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association, told the council that she was “very happy and excited” to reinstate it.

— Barbara Henry is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune


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