Mayor London Breed Announces New Measures to Financially Support Local Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Following the most recent Stay at Home Order, San Francisco will defer Unified License Fees, provide up to $1 million in support for operators of Shared Spaces, and release an additional $3.2 million in zero interest loans for Latino-owned businesses
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced three new measures aimed at helping local small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in light of the new Stay at Home Order that went into effect Sunday, December 6 at 10:00 p.m.
San Francisco will extend the deadlines for businesses to pay their annual 2020 and 2021 Unified License Fees in order to provide more flexibility as a result of the economic impact caused by the pandemic. The Unified License bill accounts for a large majority of the licensing fees a business must incur in order to operate. Analysis by the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector shows that 69 percent of businesses that must pay a Unified License Fee have $2.5 million or less in gross receipts. Additionally, locally owned businesses that either hold or have applied for a Shared Spaces permit are eligible to receive up to $5,000 in reimbursement from the City, which will help businesses that have been forced to close outdoor operations as a result of the recent Stay at Home Order and prepare for an eventual reopening. Up to $1 million in funding comes from the Shared Spaces Equity Grants Program, which prioritizes minority-owned businesses and businesses that advance the City’s equity goals.
San Francisco is also launching the San Francisco Latino Small Business Fund, which includes $3.2 million to expand the San Francisco Hardship and Emergency Loan Program (SF HELP) that will provide zero interest loans of up to $50,000 to approximately 80 small businesses. The funds are intended to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on Latino-owned businesses and small businesses in neighborhoods that serve the Latino community. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has identified nearly $24.2 million in grants and loans for more than 1,150 local small businesses and their employees.
“We have been focused from the very beginning of this pandemic on supporting our local businesses because we know the devastating impact it has had on small business owners and their employees,” said Mayor Breed. “We’re going to continue to roll out programs like these to help in every way we can, but what is most needed right now is federal support because cities and counties throughout the country are facing the same large budget deficits that we are. Our restaurants, our small businesses, our travel industry—everyone is hurting, and as a country we should be able to both protect public health and support our businesses and their employees.”
In March 2020, Mayor Breed extended the deadline for businesses to pay their 2020 Unified License Fee from April 30, 2020 to March 1, 2021. Given the pandemic’s continued impact on businesses, today Mayor Breed announced the deferral of the Unified License Fee for 2020 will further extend until October 31, 2021. To provide additional relief and time, the Unified License Fee for 2021 will also be deferred from March 1, 2021 to October 31, 2021.
These deferrals will give approximately 19,000 businesses an additional seven months to pay roughly $16 million in fees. Approximately 20% of businesses have not yet paid their 2020 Unified License Fee. For these 3,800 businesses, this represents $2.2 million in fees that they will now have more time to pay. For businesses that have paid their 2020 Unified License Fee, they will now have additional time to pay their 2021 fee. San Francisco has waived roughly $3 million in 2020 Unified License Fees and $815,000 in 2021 Unified License Fees for some entertainment venues and restaurants.
“The pandemic continues to devastate our small businesses and, just as many were reopening and rehiring staff, our recent COVID spike is forcing them to close yet again,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “We must always put public health first, but we should also be doing everything we can locally to mitigate the financial impacts of our Stay at Home order. These measures provide some relief to beleaguered businesses and I will keep working with the Mayor and my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to provide additional resources wherever we can.”
“Our small business community is the backbone of our economy, but these local gems have been among the hardest hit during this difficult time,” said Supervisor Catherine Stefani. “We owe it to them to provide relief. Deferring fees and providing additional subsidies will be key lifelines as we continue to combat the virus.”
“We know our small businesses are hurting and measures like these are essential to our small businesses and to the City’s ongoing economic recovery and cultural vitality. The investments for our minority and Latino-owned businesses builds upon our equity work while creating further pathways for our economic recovery,” said Joaquín Torres, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “We know we need more funds. We’re going to continue to advocate for more funds with our federal partner and will leave no stone unturned in identifying new opportunities and financial resources to support our small businesses during this extremely difficult time.”
The San Francisco Latino Small Business Fund is part of the $28.5 million commitment for the Latino community, which covers a broad range of support directed to focusing on health, housing, food access, workforce, and small businesses. Latinos make up 50% percent of reported cases of COVID-19 in San Francisco, despite the demographic making up just 15% of the City’s population, according to the Department of Public Health. They have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. For Latino-owned businesses, they’re largely operating in industries that have taken a hard hit from the pandemic. Based on the latest census data, there were nearly 400,000 U.S. Latino-owned employer firms in 2017, employing 3.4 million people and generating nearly $500 billion in annual revenue. The lack of cash on hand can result in the loss of over two million jobs nationally if Latino employer businesses have to permanently close before the end of the year. According to the Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative Research Program at Stanford University, only 28% of scaled Latino-owned businesses have a majority of employees that can work from home compared to 44% among white-owned businesses. Their survey data also showed that Latino-Owned Businesses had their Paycheck Protection Program loans approved at nearly half the rate of White-Owned Businesses.
The $3.2 million expansion of SF HELP will focus on private, for-profit low-income to moderate-income small businesses. The loans can be used to pay for payroll, rent, inventory, equipment, and other operating expenses businesses have as they re-open and recover. They are zero interest loans up to $50,000, with a repayment term of up to six years. There are no loan fees, personal guarantees, or collateral requirements for the borrower.
The Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) will conduct a lottery to identify the businesses invited to formally apply for the loan. Priority will be built into the lottery to small business located in neighborhoods with a large Latino population. Outreach will be conducted in multiple languages including in Spanish to businesses in partnership with community organizations that serve the Latino community. Small businesses interested in applying for the San Francisco Latino Small Business Fund can visit link.oewd.org/latinofund. The deadline to apply is January 14, 2021. Small businesses may also email for inquiries at FondoLatinoSF@medasf.org or call 415-612-2014.
While many Shared Spaces locations have been required to close as a result of the surge in COVID-19 cases locally and across the State, the Shared Spaces Equity Grants Program offers financial support to reimburse business owners for costs associated with building and operating Shared Spaces location. This support will also help business owners in the process of opening a Shared Spaces location in anticipation of future re-openings once this current COVID-19 surge is better controlled.
Priority for the Shared Spaces Equity Grants is given to locally-owned, minority-owned businesses that advance the City’s equity goals, including women-owned businesses, immigrant-owned businesses, legacy businesses, and businesses in established cultural districts or that serve a largely minority clientele. Applications are now open and there is no deadline to apply. Grants will be issued on a rolling basis with applicants notified every two weeks about the status of their applications. Interested businesses can apply at sf.gov/get-help-paying-your-shared-space-improvements.