Fresno City opens application for COVID-19 small business relief fund


FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – On Monday the City of Fresno encouraged small businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for loan-to-grant money.

The application will open until 11:59 p.m. on April 12th at

The city partnered with Fresno Economic Commission a couple of weeks ago to move around $750,000 from the city’s general fund to make this loan-to-grant program.

“Eligible small businesses with five or fewer employees may apply for $5,000,” said CEO Fresno EOC Emilia Reyes. “Eligible businesses with six to 25 employees may apply for a $10,000 loan. These loans will be provided at zero percent interest and be forgiven after a year if the borrower obtains a valid Fresno city business license and has no liens or outstanding judgments against them.”

The city will announce the recipients on April 17th and plans to distribute the money on April 20th.

Councilmember Mike Karbassi was the driving force behind the project. He said this issue hits home to him because of his families business being ordered to shut down.

“I know the anxiety about your customers,” said Karbassi. “You worry about whether or not they are going to come back and we tried providing relief for that.”

Eligible business must:

  • Have a Fresno City business license
  • Not have any unpaid judgement or tax liens
  • Have lost more than 25% of revenue due to COVID-19
  • Have no CUP Violations or fines
  • Owner must guarantee the loan

Non-eligible business:

  • Mortgage establishments
  • Casinos
  • Non-profits
  • Adult entertainment
  • Pyramid establishments
  • Religious organizations

The money will be split equally among all seven city districts. The grants will be served on a first com first serve basis. If there are not enough grants, the businesses will be randomly selected.

“We have their back,” said Councilmember Esmerelda Soria. “We know that our small business community is the backbone of our community and during extraordinary times, like the times we are living in today, it calls for us to do extraordinary things.”

Many businesses including nail salons, massage parlors, frame stores etc. have had to shut down due to the shelter in place order of Mayor Lee Brand closing all non-essential businesses.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Nathan Ahle said in the past couple of weeks many businesses have called his office scared.

“They are trying to figure out what to do with their employees,” said Ahle. “Rent and utilities need to be paid. And then they are trying to figure out access to capital projects to just keep going.”

Mayor Lee Brand said he wants the businesses to know the city will support them.

“The entire community stands with them and my prayers are to get people back working, back to school and back to life as soon as we can,” said Brand.

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