Santa Clara adds $300k to in-demand small business grant fund

Small businesses in one West Valley city got a bit of good news late Tuesday.

The City of Santa Clara’s City Council added another $300,000 to the city’s small business grant program. Launched in Mid-April, the program has seen overwhelming demand with more than 700 applications.

The initial $500,000 investment quickly ran dry, and the council added an extra $300,000 in late April. That funding was also quickly snapped up. As of May 19, the city had approved 109 grants totaling $795,000 of the available $800,000.

With the extra influx of funding, city officials will work through more applications, in the order received last month. Of the initial 700 applications received, city staff have only reviewed the first 150, resulting in grants thus far. All 150 of those applications were submitted within five minutes of the program opening on April 17.

“It also is helping our mom and pops out there, and I’m really happy about that,” Councilmember Debi Davis said.

Tuesday’s $300k addition was funded by a reduction in funding for food support programs, which has been more than offset by private and school resources, according to city officials.

Next funding potentially on June 9

Demand for the $10k and $5k grants will almost certainly outstrip even this new influx of cash. Regardless, Santa Clara is well ahead of many other West Valley cities in their support for impacted small businesses.

“We are the envy of some cities out there for what we are doing and how we are getting it done,” Davis added.

While Palo Alto, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, and San Jose also have grant programs, only Sunnyvale’s is larger, thanks to an influx of private funds.

Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor noted that she is working on engaging the city’s large businesses to assist.

“We’re trying to put an effort together to go out to the business community, especially the larger business in town to try to help us with funding some of these grants to our small businesses,” Gillmor said during the hearing.

While the city is facing an expected $10 million shortfall in the current budget year, more aid may be coming.

City staff will bring further ideas for increasing funding for the program back to the council during a budget hearing on June 9.