City of Dublin

DUBLIN — The city council has passed a $1 million aid package to support local businesses struggling during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Grant Program received unanimous approval on Dec. 1 during the Dublin City Council’s regular bi-monthly meeting. The general fund's undesignated reserves will fund the program, which could serve more than 100 businesses.

"I'm supportive of the $1 million," said Mayor David Haubert. "I would like to argue for those businesses that we know are mainstays in our communities, that are go-to's, that people know about and that have been in our community for a long time."

During a Nov. 23 special meeting, council received a report on the negative impacts that COVID-19 has had on the small business community and asked staff to bring back a proposal for a recovery program. Business owners spoke in the community during the public comment period to anxiously express the need for the council’s assistance.

"I just wanted to say, speaking for restaurants, that we need a lot of help to get over the next two months," Jesus Orozco, owner of Casa Orozco Mexican Restaurant, said during the special meeting. "We definitely need financial assistance ... we need something quick; we need something simple, and we need something significant."

The council approved an earlier small business relief package in August, which supplied over $500,000 in loans to the business community. This time around, staff aims to make the program broader to include all businesses, not just restaurants and retailers. It is not intended for corporately held or home-based businesses, nonprofit organizations, hotels, financial institutions, or chain stores.

"Every business has different needs, and the great thing about this is that we're meeting their needs for what they are," Hazel Wetherford, assistant to the city manager, said on Dec. 1.

Under the program, eligible businesses include those in the retail, restaurant, personal service, fitness and family entertainment categories. Eligibility criteria would include: being an independently owned business located in the City of Dublin; possessing an active City of Dublin business license; being in good standing with the city; and adhering to state and county health order and industry guidelines.

The grant will cover a menu of eligible expenses for which business owners can seek reimbursement up to a maximum of $10,000 per business and must be used for pandemic expenses only. Eligible uses would include items for weather protection, such as outdoor tents, canopies and heaters for use once the current COVID-19 orders are lifted. Additional uses entail physical improvements to take-out and pickup windows; digital technology to support efficient online and contactless payments; signage, promotion and personal protective equipment and/or services.

“We have assets in our community that will help (businesses) survive,” said Haubert. “When we reopen, we want to do it as close to normal as we can. Let's find those that are iconic Dublin establishments and make sure that they survive, and also do outreach to those who may not have been able to participate last time or small business owners who maybe heard about it late.”

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