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December 2, 2021

County opens grant program for small businesses

Funding available for owners who protected workforce, customers from Covid-19

Santa Clara County this week launched a program that offers grants of up to $5,000 for local small businesses that have taken or plan to take steps to protect their workforce and customers from Covid-19.

The county is partnering with the Silicon Valley and Hispanic Small Business Development Centers.

The first phase of the grant program will total more than $500,000 in financial help for local business owners who have been hit hardest by the pandemic, says a press release from Santa Clara County.

Businesses can apply for grants to offset the costs of providing paid time for their employees to get vaccinated or tested, constructing outdoor service areas, upgrading air filtration systems, modifying physical layouts or ordering and payment systems, purchasing hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment, or taking other protective steps, according to county staff.

Under the leadership of the Board of Supervisors, the program will award grants through a lottery system that accounts for equity and inclusion considerations such as business size and the location of the business in areas of the county least likely to have access to capital or other banking services.

The program is funded by fees assessed by county enforcers against businesses that have violated public health orders during the pandemic.

Additional rounds of funding will likely follow the initial round of grants, according to county staff. The county will reinvest “virtually all” fines it has collected from noncompliant businesses back into local small businesses that are doing their part to protect the public from Covid-19. 

To be eligible for grants, small businesses must not have been assessed fines for violation of public health orders, must have submitted required social distancing protocols, must have surveyed their employees for vaccination status and must commit to comply with public health orders for the duration of the pandemic.

For the last several years, the county has supported the Silicon Valley SBDC’s efforts to assist the small business community through workshops, information sessions, and the distribution of funding opportunities and other resources, says the county’s press release. The County and the Silicon Valley SBDC will both publicize the grant program to businesses countywide. The Silicon Valley SBDC will administer the program and issue checks to grantees.

Applications for grants to be issued out of the first round of funding are due by Sept. 7. SBDC expects to begin disbursing grants by the end of September. Additional information—in several languages, including English, Vietnamese, and Spanish—is available from the Silicon Valley SBDC at svsbdc.org/sc-covid-grant and 408.256.2217.

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