The City of Riverbank has awarded 30 Riverbank-based small businesses grants under the Riverbank Small Business Grant Program. The program has provided grants in various amounts levels of $10,000, $15,000, and $20,000. The City Council allocated approximately $360,000 in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to assist local small businesses that have experienced financial hardship due to the global pandemic and that can be used to assist them with payroll, operational expenses, and expenses related to COVID (PPE purchases, upgrades, etc.). The grant program had an application period from Sept. 4 to Sept. 27.
The City was able to successfully carry out this program through a partnership with Opportunity Stanislaus. Opportunity Stanislaus assisted the City by providing the creation of application materials, technical assistance, reviewing, screening, and conducting the first review of grant applications. After the first review of the applications, all complete applications were forwarded to an internal grant review committee comprised of City staff members. Initial awards were made at reduced levels in order to fund as many businesses as possible. At its Oct. 27, meeting, members of the Riverbank City Council allocated additional funds to fully fund all awarded businesses. With the City Council’s increased allocation, the total amount of CARES funding awarded to Riverbank businesses is approximately $360,000.
Some of the criteria used in the evaluation and selection of award recipients were financial impact due to COVID-19, type of business, number of employees, time in operation in the city, other financial assistance, compliance with COVID-19 state orders, active business license, the impact of COVID to business operations, and more.
The City received applications in a wide range of areas such as services, retail, manufacturing, restaurants, and automotive. Many of these businesses have been severely impacted by the pandemic. One of the focuses was to help out downtown businesses.
Riverbank City Manager Sean Scully noted “like many small businesses throughout the country, COVID has been an extreme burden and disruption to small business viability. We hope that this funding will help keep our local businesses in operation at least until restrictions are lifted to a level where they can resume some sense of normalcy in their business activity. Additionally, we hope the funding can help businesses adapt with appropriate safety precautions in place.”
“The City Council has committed to making sure that our CARES funding is used in a way that actually helps our residents and small businesses weather the storm of COVID-19,” stated Mayor Richard D. O’Brien. “We feel that although this funding is not nearly enough to cover the immense losses of our local businesses, it will help lessen the burden and provide an opportunity to bridge the gap between the current closures and the eventual reopening of all business sectors.”
This Small Business grant program is a one-time opportunity with funds received from the Federal Government. The City may be eligible to receive additional funding to continue to assist local small businesses.
“Our small businesses are the backbone of our local economy; it is critical that they receive the support they need to stay afloat during this uncertain time,” said Vice Mayor Luis Uribe. “We have worked to partner with local businesses through this grant program as well as helping them find ways to creatively address the challenges they face during this time. We will get through this together by continuing to work together in a unified way to beat this virus. I’d like to encourage everyone to continue wearing masks and follow proper social distancing protocols so that these businesses can remain safe and open.”
The small business community is strong in Riverbank, added officials, and the City is encouraging residents and visitors to shop local this holiday season.
For any questions on the program, contact Marisela Garcia at email@example.com or call 209-863-7110.