The City of San Antonio is throwing a $17 million lifeline to small businesses left reeling by the pandemic.
Applications are being accepted for the COVID Impact Grants program, which provides from $15,000 to $35,000 to small businesses that had major declines in sales in 2020 and 2021. Business owners have until Aug. 22 to apply.
“These past two years have been a challenge for many of our small businesses, which have suffered revenue losses, supply shortages, rising costs and the loss of staff, making it difficult to keep up with monthly bills and expenses,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg, adding that the program will “support San Antonio’s small businesses as they work to recover from the pandemic.”
The first of two virtual information sessions is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday, with the second at 6 p.m. Aug. 25. Visit cityofsanantoniocovidgrants.com/ to register and for more information.
The program is funded with some of the $327 million the city received through the American Rescue Plan Act. Passed last year, the $1.9 trillion measure was designed in part to buttress state and local governments’ budgets hit by lower-than-usual tax revenues during the pandemic.
City Council in February directed $31 million from the act to small businesses. The remaining $14 million is to provide businesses with “access to flexible capital funds, programs to help businesses strengthen their web and business capabilities,” among other services.
West Side-based small business lender LiftFund will be doling out the grants, a role similar to one it played in the early days of the pandemic, when it doled out federal dollars to keep small businesses afloat.
It’s not clear how many grants will be made. That’s because there’s an additional $10,000 “construction impact” supplement available for businesses located in 19 areas with heavy construction, such as the Alamo or North St. Mary’s street.
To be eligible, small businesses must be located within San Antonio and show they experienced at least a 20 percent sales decline in both 2020 and 2021 compared with 2019. Business that saw a sales drop of 40 percent or more in both of the past two years are eligible for the maximum $35,000 grant.
The city and LiftFund will award grants between Sept. 7 and Dec. 5.
Business ineligible for the grant program may be able to receive a zero interest loan through the city and LiftFund. LiftFund also offers free business counseling.
“This grant program is a key component to helping businesses stay open, to stabilize and thrive,” Janie Barrera, president and CEO of LiftFund, said in a statement.