Small businesses in Santa Clara Co. soon to be eligible for pandemic relief grants

Small businesses in Santa Clara County will be soon be eligible for $20 million in pandemic relief grants. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the proposal Tuesday.

Small businesses, like family-owned California Wet Burrito, say they're still feeling the strain of the pandemic.

For months, few students and office workers in downtown San Jose, meant few customers for lunch.

"One of the main things is staying afloat, surviving... you know maintain yourself, paying your employees," says Janeal Sanchez, of California Wet Burrito.

But thanks to Santa Clara County, help is on the way.

Supervisors unanimously approved a new grant program that will funnel $20-million in federal rescue act funds out to small businesses.

"The goal from my perspective is to move as quickly as we can to get the money into the community, into circulation, into stabilizing families and children," says county Supervisor Susan Ellenberg.

The county has given out grants before, using $700,000 collected from COVID fines. But the need far exceeded the cash they had to hand out.

"We will be giving out 300 grants, but over 4,200 applied. And that's now. That's not a year ago," says Dennis King, director of Small Business Development Centers for Santa Clara County.

The details of who will be eligible for the new grants and what the process will look like, is still being decided.

But local leaders say more money, will mean more small businesses saved.

"The grants, hopefully effective grants, are the bridges that are going to allow them to hold on a little bit longer, to keep that hope, to keep working, not to give up," said King.

At California Wet Burrito, they are feeling hopeful, not just for themselves, but for neighboring businesses too.

"So it's like very important for us and it means so much for us," says Sanchez.

Over the next 45 days, details of the grant program will be worked out. Supervisors hope to get that money out into the community soon after that.