Newport Beach secures $2.1 million in federal grants for local small businesses hit by COVID-19 pandemic

Patrons eat lunch at Charlie's Chili near the Newport Beach Pier on May 27.
Patrons eat lunch at Charlie’s Chili near the Newport Beach Pier on May 27.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Small businesses in Newport Beach are eligible to receive up to $10,000 in federal grants to make up some of the losses suffered while forcibly shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.

The county, acting as a pass-through, decided last week to set aside $75 million of its more than $500-million CARES Act award for cities. Each supervisorial district received $15 million and spread it among cities by population, giving Newport Beach just more than $2.1 million.

The city will start releasing funds in three to four weeks, the City Council decided Monday when it unanimously agreed to accept the allocation.

Eligible businesses must meet federal requirements for financial pandemic relief by proving that their business was deemed nonessential and was forced to shut down by the state or local government; sales are down more than 25% over the previous three months; and the business has had to lay off at least one of its employees.

Businesses must have 20 or fewer employees. City staff recommends prioritizing hard-hit retail, restaurant and personal service establishments, specifically hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and small gyms that provide their services onsite.

Priority will also be given to businesses that have not received other pandemic relief funds like the Paycheck Protection Program or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

The city has retained the Orange County Small Business Development Council to administer the program. The local nonprofit will vet applicants. Should there be more interest than funds available — and city staff predicts that to be the case — the business council will use a lottery system to rank applications.

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