"Shop in the Laurel" mural with text in bold and painted windows with foliage.
"Shop in the Laurel" mural in East Oakland's Laurel district promotes buying from local businesses. Credit: Amir Aziz

The state of California is accepting applications for small business COVID-19 relief grants for a few more days. The program, which started in December, will distribute grants of up to $25,000 to qualifying small businesses and nonprofits until Jan. 13. Governor Gavin Newsom announced the grant program in November.

Applicants are divided into three categories to determine the grant amount they qualify for: businesses that generate $1,000 to $100,000 in revenue will receive $5,000; businesses that generate $100,000 to $1,000,000 will receive $15,000; and businesses that generate $1,000,000 to $2,500,000 will receive $25,000.

Grants are being determined by factors such as how bad the pandemic is in a county where a business is located, which industry sectors are most impacted by the pandemic, and whether a business is owned by women, people of color, veterans, or low to moderate income households.

The original deadline to apply was Jan. 8, but this was extended until Jan. 13, after some business owners complained that the state’s website made it difficult to apply.

California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate stated in a press release on Jan. 5 that a high volume of applications was to blame for accessibility problems. The office assured that “all applications will be reviewed following the now extended application deadline,” and that “the funds will then be disbursed as originally planned to avoid any possible delay to small business owners receiving their grants.”

This past November, Alameda County distributed up to $5,000 in federal CARES act funding to small business owners and sole proprietors, though many said it wouldn’t be enough to keep going.

Rosa Gonzalez, owner and sole employee of the Salvadoran restaurant Los Cocos in Fruitvale, told The Oaklandside in November that she’s received different grants in the past few months, but the money only lasts so long. “I’m hardly making my [home] rent and the rent of the business,” said Gonzalez. “Bills don’t stop, insurance doesn’t stop, PG&E doesn’t stop, so we have to keep going.”

To apply for the state’s small business grants, visit this website.

Ricky Rodas is a member of the 2020 graduating class of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining The Oaklandside, he spent two years reporting on immigrant communities in the Bay Area as a reporter for the local news sites Oakland North, Mission Local, and Richmond Confidential. Rodas, who is Salvadoran American and bilingual, is on The Oaklandside team through a partnership with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.