After Murrieta received 75 applications for their Back to Business Grant Program in the first round, they came back for round two.
“This is the first time we’ve administered a business grant,” Scott Agajanian, deputy director of development services for the economic development, said. “We had the first round which offered up to $250,000 in total grants.”
These funds were allocated for Community Development Block Grant funds through Murrieta’s city council.
“What we didn’t want to see is small businesses in our community which had been flourishing for the last several years come to a halt and have businesses close down that maybe just needed a little bit more time,” Agajanian said.
They came out with the grant program and offered 25 $10,000 grants to small businesses that were open for at least a year and had a business license and were operating within the standards of the city.
“If they met the criteria, which meant that they were either operated by or had employees that were low to moderate income, they would be eligible to receive up to a $10,000 grant if they could show that they had some economic hardship due to COVID-19,” Agajanian said.
“COVID-19 has struck most from a financial standpoint in our small business community,” he said. “The city of Murrieta has about 10,000 businesses licensed, and we have about 5,000 that are located here primarily in the city. Just under 3,000 of those have a commercial site, have a brick and mortar store or a store front.”
Those were the ones that were eligible for the grant, according to Agajanian.
“We made it based on a first come, first serve basis, and we opened it up; within two hours we received 75 applications,” he said.
The applicants were asked to fill out a one-page preapplication that gave the city basic information about the business that would determine if they qualified in moving forward with the grant process.
“About that time we had about 37, I think that were qualified to move forward, and from that, we sent the full application package to 25 and had them complete it,” Agajanian said. “Out of that, there were 16 that completed the whole package, we still had nine spaces left over.”
They reopened the second round Thursday, Oct. 15, at 9 a.m., so that they’d be able to finish giving out the remaining nine grants.
In the first round, the city received a variety of different businesses that applied: from manufacturers, to retailers, nail salons, restaurants, etc.
“There’s no strings attached, meaning that we’re not going to come back and say give the money back or anything,” Agajanian said. However, there are follow-up requirements.
“The only follow-up is that they submit to a future documentation that they kept their employees and that they kept running their business,” Agajanian said.
Agajanian said that the response of receiving the grants has been the best part.
“Owners are in tears,” he said. “They really think they’re going to close down. They really need that lifeline. And they have been so excited and so appreciative because it has literally been the difference between staying open or closing down.”
Lexington Howe can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.