At their March 9th meeting, the City Council unanimously authorized the use of $150,000 from SB 1090 funds to assist businesses and residents in the form of business assistance grants and retraining scholarships.
Pursuant to a December 2016 Settlement Agreement between Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the local San Luis Obispo County governmental entities, and later, SB 1090, the City has received one-time Economic Development Funds of $747,422 to support the City’s economic development needs in light of the planned closure of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant.
Realizing the significant impacts COVID-19 has had on the community of Arroyo Grande as a whole, staff recommended that Council consider directing the use of a portion of SB 1090 funds for a blend of COVID-19 relief programs assisting Arroyo Grande businesses and residents. After much consideration, Council authorized use of $150,000 for the expansion of the City’s Business Assistance Grant Program and a Retraining Scholarship Program to be administered in partnership with the South County Chambers of Commerce. In addition, Council authorized staff to work with the Chamber of Commerce on a COVID Safety Superstar Program, which will not require any funding and will celebrate stand-out Arroyo Grande businesses’ adherence to COVID-19 protocols and restrictions. The Chamber of Commerce will administer this program.
The Business Assistant Grant Program was originally created in October using one-time CARES Act funds to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures. The continuation of this program with $110,000 from SB 1090 funds will allow the City to generate a new round of microgrants. Allowed use of the funds for this round will include rent, payroll, personal protective equipment costs, costs associated with implementing new cleaning or operational protocols, and costs associated with website development and maintenance that will support “COVID-19 resiliency” for Arroyo Grande businesses.
The Retraining Scholarship Program will provide $40,000 for scholarships to Arroyo Grande residents, businesses, and employees who are seeking occupational retraining opportunities. The Chamber of Commerce will assist the City in administering this program, which will utilize services offered by SLO Partners. Priority will be given to individuals whose existing occupations have been directly impacted by COVID-19 and/or the planned closure of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant.
Council Members commented on the necessity of the Program to assist residents and businesses who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. “We are pleased to offer this assistance to our local businesses and residents who have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of the state closure orders,” stated City Manager Whitney McDonald. “Economic recovery is crucial to our thriving community and we are excited to do our part to support these efforts in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce.”
More information and applications will be available in the coming weeks on the City’s website at www.arroyogrande.org. Applications will be reviewed and selected by a panel to include representatives of the City, the Chamber of Commerce, and business representatives.