How San Antonio small businesses can apply for a covid relief grant
The City of San Antonio has opened a new round of grants for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and some ongoing construction projects.
Apps are expected on Monday August 22.
The city has set aside $17 million of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the grants, which will range from $15,000 to $35,000,
An additional $10,000 will be considered for businesses that have been impacted by construction. The city has identified 19 ongoing construction projects that could get business owners to qualify for more money. They include ongoing work on North St. Mary’s Street and the Broadway Street Corridor. A full list is available on page 43 of the City’s Eligibility Framework.
LiftFund, a nonprofit advocacy group and microlender for small businesses, operates the grant program, which the city approved in June.
“We want to remind businesses in need: This program is not first come, first served,” said LiftFund President and CEO Janie Barrera. “Take the time to meet with one of the community partners on the website to ensure you submit a complete application. Plan ahead to submit by August 22.
Since applications opened on Monday, the program has already received nearly 400 applications.
Last year, a similar grant program gave $6,000 to Andrea Ley’s business, Olla Express Coffee, which at the time was a food truck. She used the grant to open her first brick-and-mortar location in northwest San Antonio and to boost production of one of her signature products, piloncillo-flavored syrup.
“We’re growing and it’s getting better every day,” Ley said.
Her new earnings figures mean she is not eligible for the current grant scheme.
To qualify, a small business must demonstrate that its gross sales in 2021 and 2020 were lower than in 2019. The business must be located in the city. And certain industries are excluded, such as non-profit organizations, liquor stores, payday lenders and others. A complete list of eligibility criteria can be found on the city’s webpage for grants.
The application process requires certain documents such as a utility bill, three years of tax returns and proof of the number of workers employed earlier this year.
“For most people, it takes them 30 minutes to an hour to complete the application,” said Liliane Spenle, grant programs and operations manager at LiftFund.
Partner groups offer their help with the application, free of charge. These groups are Centro San Antonio, Culturingua, Maestro Entrepreneur Center, Prosper West, SAGE (San Antonio for Growth on the East Side), Southside First Economic Development Council, and the LiftFund Women’s Business Center. The contact details of these organizations are available on the the city website.
The city will not require businesses to explain how they will use the grant money. But city officials said federal guidelines state the money cannot be used to pay bills or unpaid debts.
LiftFund also offers a number of other city-sponsored services for small businesses, whether or not they qualify for this specific grant program. These services include thezero interest loan” program and free business advice.
LiftFund previously administered more than $42 million in city grants to small businesses for COVID relief and other programs.
“The past two years have been a challenge for many of our small businesses, which have experienced lost revenue, supply shortages, increased costs and loss of staff, making it difficult to track invoices and monthly expenses,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. in a prepared statement. “Through funding from ARPA, we will support small businesses in San Antonio as they work to recover from the pandemic and will also strengthen our small business community and the economy as a whole.”
The grants are the first of two phases of the city’s plan to try to help small businesses. The city said the second phase will include providing small businesses with access to flexible capital funds, implementing programs to help businesses build their web capabilities, coordinating a “safety net for small businesses”, the promotion of local purchase and the presentation of corridors for small businesses.
The San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recently estimated that more than a third of small businesses have closed since the pandemic began.