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$10,000 grants to small businesses hurt by pandemic in Buena Park

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Buena Park will grant $10,000 each to 51 small businesses left reeling by COVID-19 pandemic, money that could be used to pay commercial rent, payroll, utilities and other necessities.

The Small Business Emergency Relief Grant Program, set to launch this week, is aimed at helping Buena Park-based companies with 10 or fewer employees (including the owner) that generate tax revenue for the city.

Companies have a two-day window to apply for the grant, beginning Thursday, May 21, at 8 a.m., through Friday at 5 p.m. Applications can be made in person at City Hall or on the city’s website.

Not every small business in Buena Park is eligible for the money. Self-employed individuals and nonprofits won’t qualify.

Eligible companies will have to show that they’ve been hurt by COVID-19, meaning those deemed non-essential during the state’s stay-at-home order, or those whose sales were down more than 25% in February compared to the previous three months. Companies also qualify if they’ve had to lay off at least one employee during the pandemic.

There are other income requirements, and program organizers suggested business owners contact the city’s Economic Development division to see if their company qualifies.

Money for the grants is coming from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was enacted in late March. The city is partnering with the Small Business Development Center to form and implement the program.

During a webinar Monday, Mike Daniel, regional director of Orange County’s SBDC office, said the grants will help businesses survive the local economic standstill.

“The hope is that those $10,000 would go toward rent. My guess is that 99.9% of the people who are applying for it are going to spend all of it,” Daniel said.

Aaron France, Buena Park’s assistant city manager, said staff are expecting a big response and want to get grants out quickly. Recipients will be announced by lottery via Facebook Live, though the date for that has not been set.

“We’re hoping to do the lottery at the end of next week,” he said.

The money will be disbursed as two installments — $5,000 within two weeks of approval and the rest coming about a month later, once the business is up and running again.

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