Mayor London Breed Announces New $62 Million Relief Plan for Small Businesses
Combination of grants and loans will triple San Francisco’s total direct financial support for small business during the pandemic
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced a new plan to provide immediate financial relief for small businesses struggling as a result of COVID-19. The $62 million plan will provide a combination of grants and very low to zero-interest loans, which will complement and expand existing local, state, and federal initiatives.
Locally, San Francisco has already provided more than $24 million in grants and loans, and recently waived an additional $5 million in fees for our hardest hit small businesses. This new small business relief plan will triple the overall support provided by the City. This comes as the federal government has directed new funding in the expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and the State has launched its own Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program.
“These have been long, hard months on so many of us, but in particular our small business owners and workers have really struggled,” said Mayor Breed. “We have lost too many of our small businesses already during this pandemic, and this relief plan will help many businesses get through these next challenging months as the vaccine is distributed and we can begin our recovery. The San Francisco we are going to be moving forward needs our small businesses to provide jobs and make our neighborhoods vibrant again sooner for residents and visitors.”
“With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, we are finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, but we are not there yet, and these resources will make sure some of our favorite neighborhood businesses will still be around when we get there,” said Carmen Chu, San Francisco Assessor and Co-chair of the Economic Recovery Task Force, a collaborative body responsible for compiling over 40 recommendations to help the City rebound stronger. “San Francisco will rise again and we can do this together.”
Proposed Grant Program -- $12.4 million
SF Relief Grants: The proposed grant program will provide immediate relief to help stabilize small business operations by offering grants of $5,000 to $20,000, based on the number of employees that each employer had in February 2020. The goal of this program will be to reach businesses across the City and in high need neighborhoods in particular. This program will support small businesses operated by people of color, women, long-standing businesses, those most impacted by Stay at Home orders, and those that were excluded from or otherwise unable to access state and federal programs. Businesses will be required to have a San Francisco location and/or a San Francisco business license to operate. These funds will be distributed quickly to help address impacts of the current surge, with more substantial loan funds to follow supporting businesses as they reopen and bring people back to work.
Proposed Loan Program -- Up to $50 million
SF Community Investment Loans: This planned loan program is aimed at supporting businesses by providing working capital, especially to those left out of existing relief programs. This will include businesses that normally generate more than $2.5 million in annual revenue, including many restaurants. To meet the overwhelming need created by COVID-19, during the past year, the City has successfully leveraged investments to maximize available loans to small businesses. Working with the City’s established local community lending partners as well as federal and state government, the City plans to leverage this latest, unprecedented investment to make a $50 million loan program available, offering San Francisco small businesses very low to zero-interest loans ranging up to $250,000. By targeting small community anchor businesses that employ more people, with an ultimate aim of retaining and creating new jobs, the loan program will help stabilize San Francisco’s local workforce. This plan also includes a focus on microloans for businesses who may not otherwise be in a position to borrow capital.
“We’re a city that tackles challenges head on and through this pandemic, we’ve seen our communities step up in support of our neighborhood small businesses who rely on everyday purchases to stay open,” said Joaquin Torres, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “The announcement of today’s financial relief plan reflects the City’s commitment toward a more equitable future by investing millions to support our mom and pop shops and their workers who are struggling to make ends meet. Together, with state and federal resources, we'll ensure our businesses have the capital to stay open, preserve jobs, and provide a continuity of services for the public over the next few months as we move toward an aggressive economic recovery.”
The Mayor is working with Departments to analyze their budgets and spending in order to identify any possible savings that could be used to support our small businesses. This program will be funded by these departmental expenditure savings. This funding will require a supplemental ordinance to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, which will be introduced in January.
“The devastating effect on our small businesses due to the pandemic has really crushed a vital part of our economy in SF. The millions of dollars in assistance, for these businesses from this relief plan, is the lifeline that we need to help a lot of our businesses survive,” said Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton. “I am super excited about the grants that will be provided from this funding and zero interest loans will also help maintain a safety net for our businesses. I am thrilled that this support is available, while we continue to fight off the virus and get to the point where we can reopen safely.”
“In the face of budget deficit, our city is working hard to identify funding to provide a lifeline for our local merchants,” said Supervisor Connie Chan. “We know the only way we can get through this pandemic is for all of us to work together and find creative solutions, including more grant programs to support our small businesses and working people. I’m committed to do whatever I can to meet that responsibility.”
“The pandemic put our local economy into survival mode, and no one has been hurt harder than our small business community,” said Supervisor Catherine Stefani. “Small businesses employ half of the workers and make our neighborhoods vibrant places to live. They are the backbone of our city, and we need to do everything we can to support them. This relief package is an important step toward providing small businesses the stabilization they will need to survive.”
“Our city is hemorrhaging small businesses: The Cliff House, Slims, The Stud, the list of businesses we’ve lost during the pandemic goes on, and on,” said Supervisor Matt Haney. “If we don’t act swiftly, we’re in danger of losing many more of our most iconic businesses that contribute so much to our city. As Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, I am proud to stand by the Mayor in announcing this package to help our small businesses. These funds can’t come soon enough.”
“The pandemic has already permanently shuttered far too many San Francisco small businesses and we know that even more will follow in the coming months if we don’t intervene,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “This relief plan is the sort of decisive and impactful action from City Hall that our small businesses need to stay afloat. The $62 million in this plan triples the amount of support we have previously provided small businesses and we must continue to find ways to do even more.”
“I’m pleased to see we’re finally giving the people what they want: direct relief,” said Supervisor Peskin. “Over and over, small businesses have told us that to survive this pandemic, they must pay their employees, insurance and bills. People are suffering, and small business relief funds should be going directly to employers and employees, not landlords and consultants.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the City of San Francisco has provided immediate and ongoing support for small businesses, including more than $24 million in grants and loans to more than 1,230 businesses, tens of millions of dollars in fee and tax deferrals, and assistance applying for state and federal funding. Additionally, just last week, the Board of Supervisors passed the Mayor’s legislation waiving $5 million in fees and taxes for entertainment and nightlife venues and small restaurants, meaning that businesses that receive a waiver do not have to pay back the fees at a later date.
In addition to creating and supporting programs that respond to the urgent and ongoing needs of COVID-19, Mayor Breed has continued to invest in programs that regularly support small businesses in San Francisco, including the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative and Grants for the Arts. Lastly, the City has advanced numerous initiatives to make it easier to operate and open businesses during COVID-19 and beyond, such as the Shared Spaces program and the Save Our Small Businesses ballot measure, which voters approved in November 2020. More information about San Francisco’s support for small businesses is available here.
“This is the biggest relief plan the City has pursued for small business since the pandemic started, and will save thousands of desperately needed jobs and businesses throughout the City,” said Sharky Laguana, San Francisco Small Business Commissioner. “With a vaccine now starting to be deployed, making sure that everyone who needs it has a bridge to economic recovery is critical to getting back on our feet as quickly as possible.”
“Many of our mid-sized restaurants are the anchors of our neighborhood corridors and represent some of the longer operating businesses in the city. Expanding access to allow more mid-sized restaurants to apply will support this heavily impacted industry,” said Laurie Thomas, Executive Director, Golden Gate Restaurant Association. “We are thankful for the continued efforts on the part of the city leaders to try to help save our restaurant community.”
“I’m grateful that the Mayor and her team are making efforts to get critically needed funds to our restaurants,” said Mat Shuster, Chef & Owner, Canela Bistro. “Without continued financial assistance to restaurants like mine that have been operating in the Castro for the past ten years, we will struggle to survive.”
“Small food operators like myself are dealing with unprecedented challenges from COVID-19. These City investments are vital to maintaining the operations of businesses like mine,” said Tiffany Carter of Boug Cali. “Funds from the City’s Small Business grant programs are a lifeline and have given my business the opportunity to deliver meals and groceries to some of our most vulnerable residents and essential workers around the city.”