Turlock businesses experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19 can apply for aid through the City’s Small Business Relief Grant Program through the end of November.
The program is just one of many ways Turlock is spending nearly $3.5 million in federal coronavirus relief funding — $2.5 million from the CARES Act, and another $849,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The application period for the Small Business Relief Program went live on Nov. 6 and will be open through Nov. 30.
“We’re seeing a great response to that, which really just kicked off Friday morning,” City Manager Tobi Wells said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, adding that 30 businesses had already applied.
In addition to the business grant program, the City Council had previously directed staff to create an emergency COVID-19 Mortgage, Rent and Utility Assistance Program with the funding from HUD, as well as support the County StanRAD card focused on the downtown area. Turlock received $125,000 from Stanislaus County for this program, which matches up to $100 of gift card funds purchased by community members to be used at 40 downtown businesses.
While the original allocation of StanRAD funding has already been used, the City approved an additional allocation of $25,000 for continued support of the program which will likely be made available Thanksgiving weekend for Small Business Saturday.
A total of $800,000 will be available through the Small Business Relief Grant Program — businesses with zero to nine employees are eligible for up to $15,000, those with 10 to 19 employees could receive up to $20,000 and the maximum grant amount is up to $25,000 for businesses with 20 employees or more.
According to Wells, none of the applicants will be scored until the application period is closed. An additional $10,000 is also being allocated to Opportunity Stanislaus, which is administering the program and providing financial, material and labor resources to create a designated website, market the program and help businesses with the grant application process.
To be eligible for the grant program, the business must be a City of Turlock-based business, with principal business facilities located in Turlock. Businesses must be for-profit, but lending and investment institutions, insurance companies and corporate-owned national chain businesses and stores are not eligible.
Councilmember Andrew Nosrati asked Wells if business owners who may not speak English, or those outside the heart of downtown will be made aware of the funding.
“I worry that what happens here is there are insiders who are listening in, and those who are associated with the powerhouses in Turlock are the first ones that find out about these things...by the time it reaches the general public and those who are generally underserved, the timing has already passed,” Nosrati said.
Wells pointed out that at the County level, Opportunity Stanislaus has already helped businesses in underserved communities complete the grant application process through multiple rounds of funding. The organization also oversees the Valley Occupational Learning and Technology Institute, to which the City Council allocated $50,000 in coronavirus funding towards scholarships to assist Turlock residents with job training. An additional $15,000 in funding was set aside for a “shop local” campaign to market Turlock businesses during the holidays.
To apply for the City’s Small Business Relief Grant Program, visit www.turlockbusinessrelief.com