State initiative looks to keep small businesses afloat

State News

(KGET) — This year has been especially difficult for small businesses across California, and now a new effort is underway to help them recover.

Wrestling with changing restrictions, demands and lost dollars, small businesses across the state need help.

“Obviously this has been a tremendous impact on them as they struggle to survive and thrive through COVID,” Isabel Guzman, Director of the Office of the Small Business Advocate says. “Across the board, based on most surveys and data we’ve seen, it’s about a third to half depending on the specific population and industry.”

In an effort to keep more from collapsing, the state last week launched the California Rebuilding Fund. This was recommended by a large economic recovery task force Gov. Gavin Newsom assembled early in the pandemic.

For small businesses that are under banked, the fund will provide applicants up to $100,000 in loans using a blend of state and private money.

“When they apply they go through a matching process for eligibility, once they’re matched they’re with a community lender and they’ll go through an underwriting process and once approved, they get a loan,” Scott Wu, executive director of the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, said.

Fund organizers say in its first day-and-a-half, 1,400 businesses applied; 1,100 of them are matched, processing $75 million in loans.

The state put up $25 million so far for the fund, with the private sector providing an indefinite amount of money.

“This is unlike other programs that have a short window,” Wu says, “people have to rush in before funds are exhausted. This program will keep raising capital as long as there continues to be a need.”

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