The San Benito County Board of Supervisors made progress toward supporting local small businesses this week by providing them some financial assistance through the CARES Act.
David Westrick, county public information officer, said in a press release on Oct. 22 that the county will provide nearly $200,000 in one-time funds to support small businesses, addressing unforeseen financial needs and risks created by the Covid-19 public health emergency.
“The federal funds were provided through the CARES Act, which was then allocated to the County of San Benito,” Westrick said in the statement.
Westrick said a Memorandum of Understanding was proposed by San Benito County showing that the City of Hollister will receive $150,000, while the City of San Juan will receive $43,000.
The funds need to be utilized for facility upgrades to improve outdoor seating and heating so that businesses can maintain outdoor operations during the fall and winter seasons. Social distancing preparedness and other Covid-19 modifications must also be made.
The MOU criteria states that both cities must prioritize the revitalization of local businesses and organizations with businesses with leases for office or commercial; and/or storefront operations within the county.
The MOU also states that cities have the flexibility to create their programs with the caveat to prioritize businesses that have been operating for at least one year prior to March 1, 2020, according to Westrick.
San Benito County Administrative Officer Ray Espinosa said in the statement that research done by the CARES Act Ad HOC Committee showed there was a real need to prioritize local small businesses.
Members of the committee such as county supervisors Peter Hernandez and Anthony Botelho along with Supervisor Elect Bea Gonzales-Ramirez, who served as a non-voting member, were all in agreement, according to Espinosa.
“They felt that we are responsible for helping our neighbors and supporting our communities and our local businesses,” Espinosa said. “The board of supervisors have been working on solving these local problems since the beginning of the pandemic.”