For a small business owner, the importance of cash in hand can never be overstated. Proper planning and cash flow management ensure that a small business can face economic shocks when they arise. In 2020, by our tracking, more than 300 Mendocino County business owners received just shy of $5 million in federal and state Covid-related forgivable loans and grants; that’s cash in hand. The recent announcement of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG), which was established to provide support to entertainment venues forced to close their doors due to pandemic restrictions, brought an additional $988,000 to Mendocino County alone. But what do these numbers really mean for a rural community like ours?

First, keep in mind that in rural regions a town may be supported by only five businesses. And, if four of those businesses close, you cease to have a town. This, in turn, trickles down and impacts the next township. So, while direct funding helps a business to survive, it also has a direct impact on the livelihood and wellbeing of the whole community.

For example, let’s look at the Noyo Theatre in Willits, which was awarded a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. For over 81 years this theater has brought together family, friends, and neighbors to enjoy the power of cinematic storytelling. Its origins also supported local filmmakers. The temporary isolation due to the pandemic has not dampened our need for shared experiences as a community, something that this local business creates and sustains.

Mendocino County residents have long been conscious of health and wellness. On the south end of Ukiah sits the Ukiah Valley Athletic Club, a fixture in the community for many years. The club brings together people and raises awareness of the importance of regular exercise routines to our health and wellbeing. Receiving a low-interest Covid loan has allowed the owners to renovate and expand in ways that support their members, and the local supply chain where they buy local services and equipment.

Cash infusions at this critical time are necessary not only for keeping what we have, but also for inspiring new businesses that are desperately needed in our county. New companies like Happy Rides, a fledgling medical transport company to assist the elderly and sick across our geographically distributed county, benefited from funding opportunities, grants and the investment by community members for their work.

So, what funding is here and what is on the way?

The State of California has released an additional $1.5 billion for small businesses with. California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, with individual grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

The Economic Development & Financing Corporation, West Business Development Center, and Lake County’s Community Development Services are working with the county and city municipalities to distribute more than $2.5 million in grants and low-interest loans to low to moderate income entrepreneurs over the next few months.

The Small Business Administration has new Payment Protection Plan loan forgiveness criteria to benefit the small business owner, and new applications for SVOGs are also being accepted.

The Economic Development Administration is leading the way with its $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funds for local county and city municipalities to secure for big infrastructure projects and high-wage job creation.

What grants are on the horizon?

California Microbusiness COVID-19 Relief Grant Program (MCRGP): The California Microbusiness COVID-19 Relief Grant Program is a one-time $50 Million grant program that will provide $2,500 grants to eligible microbusinesses in California

California Venues Grant Program (CVGP): The California Venues Grants Program is a one-time $150 Million grant program for eligible independent live events that have been affected by COVID-19.

The California Dream Fund Program is a one-time $35 Million grant program that will provide microgrants up to $10,000 to seed entrepreneurship and small business creation in California.

West Center is your local nonprofit small business development agency staying abreast of today’s fluid nature of access to capital. We work closely with local, regional, state and federal agencies to provide business owners, with no-cost assistance on loan and grant applications. It is important to remember that in the new normal, access to money is ever-changing so it pays to be attentive to deadlines and changing restrictions.  West Center is here to help you sort out your options.  Give us a call at 707-964-7571.