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Gift cards and grants: SLO County cities offer more local business relief

Downtown SLO
San Luis Obispo and Grover Beach are handing out $500K in small business grant support.

With new state-mandated economic restrictions in place due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, the cities of San Luis Obispo and Grover Beach are pumping more money into helping local businesses stay afloat.

San Luis Obispo is parceling out $3.4 million dollars from Measure G sales taxes. The money will support programs helping local businesses while closures and restrictions continue.

Jim Dantona with the SLO Chamber of Commerce said local governments have been forced to assume the role of helping businesses through the pandemic. 

“Right now, we really should be dealing with this at the congressional level," Dantona said. "Or at the state level, [although] even there we’ve heard some programs announced, but nothing has come to fruition.”

Part of the money—half a million dollars—will go to small business grants. $200,000 will be used for a new shop local initiative, which will put money back into shoppers pockets.

“For every $100 that a person spends at a business in the city of SLO, we will give out a $20 gift card for another participating business,”  Dantona said.

The Buy Local Bonus program—launched Monday—runs until the $200K runs out. People just need to keep their $100 in receipts from local retail, restaurants, fitness or personal service shops in San Luis Obispo and send them to the Chamber to receive the $20 gift card in return.

Grover Beach city manager Matt Bronson said that city is setting aside $500,000 for small business grants, funded by the general fund reserve, which will be replenished by future sales tax revenue.

“This $500,000 goes along with a $250,000 previously awarded to local businesses for support," Bronson said. " So all told, the city of Grover Beach—one of the smallest cities in the county—will have allocated $750,000 to our local businesses to help them weather the impacts from COVID-19.”

Bronson said the hardest part is choosing which businesses will receive the $7,500 grants.

“It is a difficult decision, so many of our local businesses have been impacted," Bronson said. "We are giving priority to businesses most impacted by the state's newest order, such as personal care services and restaurants.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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