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June 2, 2023

City Gives $250K In Pandemic Aid To Local Small Businesses

Scotts Valley Administrative Services Director Casey Estorga described the awarding of a quarter-million-dollars in pandemic aid to several local businesses as “the ending point of a very long journey.”

In introducing the item during the April 20 Scotts Valley City Council meeting, he took a moment to bring the elected officials back to the darkest days of coronavirus.

“It impacted our small businesses, their owners and their employees,” he said. “That was a result of shelter-in-place orders that came from both the State of California and locally here in Santa Cruz County.”

Businesses were forced to temporarily close, limit operations or purchase new equipment such as PPE. As a result, many small businesses saw their revenues drop through the floor while their operating costs rose, he reminded council.

“They had increased expenses,” he said, noting the City developed an economic recovery subcommittee to figure out how to help. “Needs were very dynamic, rules were changing—sometimes overnight.”

Just over two years ago, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, and, through it, the City got roughly $395,000 in Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus funding—to flow via the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

A year ago, the council agreed to put some of the money toward its childcare program, and to funnel $250,000 to small businesses, which the recovery subcommittee was responsible for distributing.

The City received interest from 63 businesses which led to 27 grant applications, but in the end just nine applications were put forward to council.

“You may ask why a business may have been deemed ineligible,” Estorga said. “Sometimes they just removed themselves after learning more about the eligibility criteria, but also, there were some very objective standards here.”

If not located in city limits, if they didn’t submit a complete application or if they didn’t provide extra documents when asked, they fell out of the running.

And some businesses couldn’t prove the money would go to support low-and-moderate-income people (a requirement of the grant). Others may have faced economic hardship but couldn’t show it was because of the coronavirus.

Plus, if a company had already received other financial assistance to cover pandemic expenses—such as rent or utilities—this was considered double-dipping, and a reason for disqualification.

The businesses selected for the program are as follows:

  • Building Kidz: $50,000
  • Faust Salon: $50,000
  • Hillside Cleaners: $7,500
  • Idlewild Tattoo Parlour: $5,000
  • Irish Eyes Beauty: $12,500
  • Limelight Home Staging: $15,000
  • Scotts Valley Veterinary Clinic: $50,000
  • The Redwood Sandwich Co.: $50,000
  • Togo’s: $10,000

Councilman Jack Dilles asked when businesses would receive the money.

Estorga said they can expect paperwork in two-to-three weeks, with checks issued by the City shortly afterward—meaning the cash should arrive by early-May at the latest.

Dilles asked if there’d be any due diligence afterwards. Estorga said businesses will have to show they’ve used the money properly, for example to retain employees for a certain period of time.

A motion to approve the funding choices was approved unanimously, with Vice Mayor Jim Reed absent.

Councilman Randy Johnson, who is on the recovery subcommittee, said it was hard disqualifying businesses.

“It’s one of those things where you can’t be moved by your heart, you have to be moved by your head,” he said. “There are quite a few hoops that you have to go through, but they were objective—and we were objective.”

Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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