New County Program Offers Grants to Small Businesses Taking Steps to Reduce Risk of COVID-19

Amidst surge caused by Delta variant, grant program will help keep the community safe by funding businesses’ efforts to vaccinate workers, modify facilities, and follow procedures to protect employees and customers


SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. — Today, the County of Santa Clara, in partnership with the Silicon Valley and Hispanic Small Business Development Centers, launched the Small Business Grant Program for COVID-19 Protective Measures. The program will issue grants of up to $5,000 to small businesses in Santa Clara County that have taken, or plan to take, steps to protect their workers and customers from COVID-19. The first phase of the grant program will total more than $500,000 in financial help for local business owners who have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

Businesses can apply for grants to offset the costs of providing paid time for their employees to get vaccinated or tested, constructing outdoor service areas, upgrading air filtration systems, modifying physical layouts or ordering and payment systems, purchasing hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment, or taking other protective steps. Under the leadership of the Board of Supervisors, the program will award grants through a lottery system that accounts for equity and inclusion considerations such as business size and the location of the business in areas of the county least likely to have access to capital or other banking services.

“There’s no better way to use the money collected from the businesses that violated the public health orders than to reinvest that money in the small businesses most impacted by the pandemic that did their part to protect their workers, customers, and communities,” said Board of Supervisors Vice President Susan Ellenberg. “I’m especially proud that our County can do this in a way that recognizes and accounts for the inequities in access to capital, banking services, and other resources that cause some businesses and business owners to suffer more than others.”

The County will fund the grant program with the fees it has assessed against businesses that violated public health orders during the pandemic. The first round of funding will likely be followed by subsequent funding rounds. The County will reinvest virtually all fines the County has collected from noncompliant businesses back into the small business community that is doing its part to protect the public from COVID-19. 

To be eligible for grants, small businesses must not have been assessed fines for violation of public health orders, must have submitted required Social Distancing Protocols, must have surveyed their employees for vaccination status, and must commit to comply with public health orders for the duration of the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on all of us, and we know that the steps we’ve taken to protect the public, while necessary, have been challenging for the business community,” said County Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “As we face this next chapter of the pandemic caused by the Delta variant, we’re mindful that small businesses are the lifeblood of our community, and we are happy that this grant program can support them to protect their workers and customers.”

The County is partnering with the Silicon Valley and Hispanic Small Business Development Centers (Silicon Valley SBDC) to administer the program at no cost to the County. For the last several years, the County has supported the Silicon Valley SBDC’s efforts to assist the small business community through workshops, information sessions, and the distribution of funding opportunities and other resources. The Small Business Grant Program for COVID-19 Protective Measures is a natural fit for this partnership. The County and the Silicon Valley SBDC will both publicize the grant program to businesses countywide. The Silicon Valley SBDC will administer the program and issue checks to grantees.

“We are delighted and honored to partner with the County of Santa Clara to serve our small business community. We know first-hand the tremendous challenges they have faced because of this pandemic, as well as the resilience, hard work, sacrifice, and leadership that they have shown to get through it,” said Dennis King, executive director of the Silicon Valley SBDC. “We’ve heard from many businesses that are proud to be doing their part to protect their workers and customers from COVID-19 while also staying in business and serving their communities. The grant program shows that the County recognizes what these businesses have gone through and understands the value of investing in the small business community.”

Applications are due by September 7, 2021, for grants to be issued out of the first round of funding. SBDC expects to begin disbursing grants by the end of September. Further information—in several languages, including English, Vietnamese, and Spanish—is available from the Silicon Valley SBDC at https://www.svsbdc.org/sc-covid-grant and (408) 256-2217.

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ABOUT THE COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, California, making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.

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Media Contact: María Leticia Gómez/Quan Vu, (408) 299-5119, [email protected]

Posted: August 17​, 2021​

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