Two Valley lawmakers are spearheading a bipartisan bill that would deliver $2.6 billion in grants for small businesses and nonprofits affected by COVID-19.
However, the funds from Senate Bill 74 are likely months away for restaurant and other small business owners.
“We’re going to continue to refine this proposal and during the legislative process, as we continue to meet with stakeholders, speak with the governor’s office, as well as legislative leadership in both houses,” said state Sen. Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno) during a Wednesday briefing with reporters.
“We know and we hope that the grants through SB 74 will be able to help many small businesses, particularly restaurants.” – Sen. Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno)
Forty-one lawmakers, or more than one-third of the entire California Legislature, are supporting the measure, according to Borgeas’ office.
Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) and Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) are joining Borgeas to lead an effort they’re calling “The Keep California Working Act.”
SB 74 is considered an urgency bill, so it could get out of committee and onto a floor vote much faster. Funding would come from the state’s projected budget surplus.
What The Bill Does
According to the text of the bill, the act would require the Small Business Advocate to administer the program and award grants of an unspecified amount to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that have experienced economic hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know and we hope that the grants through SB74 will be able to help many small businesses, particularly restaurants,” said Borgeas.
“This one puts a cap of less than 100 employees with revenue no larger than $5 million dollars.” – Chuck Van Fleet, owner of Vino Grille & Spirits and president of the Fresno chapter of the California Restaurant Association
Small businesses are eligible if they are independently owned and operated, and have fewer than 100 employees.
Grants would be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Chuck Van Fleet, owner of Vino Grille & Spirits and president of the Fresno chapter of the California Restaurant Association, joined the Wednesday news conference. Afterward, he explained to GV Wire℠ that the program would be different than other programs because it helps not only small businesses but those of medium size as well.
“This one puts a cap of less than 100 employees with revenue no larger than $5 million dollars,” Van Fleet said. He added that he didn’t qualify for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s initial grant program because his business made just over the cap.
One-Third of Legislature Has Signed On
Petrie-Norris says more than one-third of the Legislature supports the measure.
“I think speaks to the fact that whatever district we represent, rural or urban, wealthy, poor, all across the map, this is a priority for all of us to get this done and get this done swiftly so that we can get relief into the hands of our small business owners,” said Petrie-Norris during Wednesday’s virtual news conference.
GV Wire℠ asked how long it would take to get the bill through the Capitol and when relief could arrive in the bank accounts of business owners.
“Our goal is to be able to have dollars in people’s hands within a matter of months,” answered Petrie-Norris.
Said Caballero: “It is critical to tap into the projected budget surplus this year to provide them with the immediate relief that they deserve. I applaud the efforts of my colleagues in both houses and those from across the aisle for their commitment to making SB 74 successful.”