Business Relief and Support


On March 25, 2020, the City of San Diego established a Small Business Relief Fund (SBRF) to help businesses impacted by COVID-19 retain employees and sustain continuity of operations. The original funding, mostly comprised of available federal funds already accessible by the City, to launch the program quickly and establish an application process to determine need. The response was overwhelming with approximately $10,500 applications received it was clear more financial assistance was needed. In addition to almost $700K in private donations received, the City has authorized an additional $12.8M in CARES Act funds on June 9, 2020 to continue to support businesses who applied for assistance during the original application period. Less restrictive criteria and broadened qualifications in addition to a new tiered structure will allow more applicants be supported. Financial assistance between $2,500 and $10,500 in grants will still be allocated to eligible small businesses on a first-come, first-served basis and 50% of the funding will be for areas that are in low to moderate income census tracts, Opportunity Zone, Promise Zone. 

Funds awarded will be based on availability, program guidelines, and the submission of all required information and supporting documentation proving financial hardship related to COVID-19. Funds are being administered by the City of San Diego’s Economic Development Department. 

To be eligible, businesses must meet the following minimum requirements: 

  • Business must be located within the City of San Diego 
  • Employ no more than 100 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) employees or less as of February 28, 2020, this can now include businesses that are sole proprietors, family owned, or home based.
  • Have a City of San Diego Business Tax Certificate as of April 15, 2020 
  • Provide documentation that shows the business has been operational for at least 6 months 
  • Provide proof of economic hardship due to COVID-19 
  • City of San Diego employees and family members are not eligible for these funds.
  • Not have engaged in any illegal activity per local, state or federal regulations, with federal regulations taking precedence over local or state regulations. 
  • One award per business owner.

The following businesses are not eligible to request or receive SBRF financial assistance: 

  • Lending and investment institutions 
  • Insurance companies 
  • Golf courses, racetracks or gambling facilities 
  • Nonprofit entities 
  • Chain stores

Clarifying differences between the previous criteria posted (regarding the original $6.1M funds): 

  • Businesses with zero employees now qualify.
  • Businesses with a valid Business Tax Certificate as of April 15, 2020 which is the day after the applications closed will qualify. 
  • Bankruptcy (personal or business) discharged by April 1, 2019 now eligible (which is 12 months, instead of 18 months)
  • Other funding sources and loans received do not preclude a business from receiving these funds (i.e. PPP, EIFL, SBA Loans, etc)
  • Business must be located in the City of San Diego AND owner can live outside the City of San Diego (but cannot live outside the County of San Diego)
  • Business owners that have already received assistance from the first phase of SBRF including the efforts underway with Cal Coast Cares through San Diego Grantmakers, are NOT eligible to receive additional funds. 

Grant funds can be used to support the cost of business interruption due to COVID-19 as a result of required closures, voluntary closures to promote physical distancing, or decreased customer demand, including:

  • Working capital
  • Machinery and equipment
  • Payroll expenses
  • Contract labor
  • Supplier payments
  • Rent, lease, or mortgage payment for real property used for business purposes
  • Rent, lease, or purchase payment for business property
  • Utility payments for business properties
  • Cost of critical business operations
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and/or sanitation supplies and equipment

New Tiered Structure for grant awards:

  • $2,500 for businesses with zero (0) employees (owner) and annual gross revenue from 2019 is less than $200,000
  • $5,000 for businesses with one (1) employee (not the owner) and annual gross revenue from 2019 is less than $500,000
  • $7,500 for businesses with five (5) or less employees and annual gross revenue from 2019 is less than $1,000,000
  • $10,000 for businesses with six (6) or more employees and annual gross revenue from 2019 is less than $3,000,000

All Promise Zone, Opportunity Zone and LMI Census Tract applicants will receive an additional $500.

Applicants that are eligible will be contacted by Economic Development Department staff and asked to provide backup documentation, including but not limited to:

  • IRS Form W-9
  • Recent Tax Returns
  • Bank Statements
  • Current Balance Sheet

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