Escondido offering COVID-19 business grants

Escondido plans to distribute $1 million in grants to help small businesses struggling in the…

Escondido plans to distribute $1 million in grants to help small businesses struggling in the COVID-19 pandemic pay their bills and their workers, with up to $15,000 available for each business that qualifies, the city announced Friday.

Grants will be provided with part of the city’s portion of federal CARES Act funding, and administered by the San Diego North Economic Development Council, said Amber Tarrac, deputy director of economic development.

“The city’s goal is to really support our small business community, and to demonstrate as a city that we are here for them,and we hear them,” she said.

The funds can be used for equipment and supplies needed for commercial rent payments, payroll, and equipment or construction needed for the company’s COVID-19 response, such as purchasing sanitizing equipment or installing social-distancing shields. To qualify, businesses must be located within Escondido, hold valid business licenses, and have annual revenue of less than $1 million. Home-based and sole proprietorships are eligible to apply.

Tarrac said the city expects that many applicants will be businesses within the personal care sector, including barbershops and nail and hair salons, as well as those in the restaurant and beverage industry.

Grant applications will be accepted through Aug. 28, or until the funds are expended, but applications will be accepted and reviewed each week, she said. The San Diego North Economic Development Council will rate and rank applications, and make recommendations to the city each week, Tarrac said.

The city manager and finance department will have final authority over the awards, and issue checks directly to businesses, she said. They expect about a two-week turnaround time from application submission to receipt of the checks, she said.

“We want to get these checks out as quickly as possible, since we know businesses are really struggling out there.”

Tarrac and other city officials are also available to help businesses interested in establishing outdoor operations, and can provide information on setup and equipment options, and the permitting process.

“If they want to explore doing outdoor services, we’re here to guide them through the process and whether they need a permit or not,” she said. “It’s about a one-business day turnaround time to get the permit approved.”

To apply for grants, visit the Escondido city website at Applications are also available in Spanish. For information or questions, contact Tarrac at [email protected] or by phone at (760) 839-4587.