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By Miriam Raftery

Update July 13, 2020: The County has changed these rules as a direct result of East County Magazine's investigation, after our editor made inquiries to Supervisor Dianne Jacob's staff and alerted La Mesa Chamber of Commerce President Mary England, who immediately made calls as well.

A business license is no longer required of businesses in unincorporated areas. Proof of employees is no longer required for all-volunteer nonprofits.

July 10, 2020 (San Diego)-- Local small businesses, restaurants and nonprofits suffering financial losses due to COVID-19 can now apply for a grant from the County of San Diego. Supervisors approved the new Small Business Stimulus Program  on July 7, which will be funded with $17 million in federal CARES Act funding. 

However, East County Magazine has alerted Supervisor Dianne Jacob that documents required in the application will preclude most businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county from applying, as well as nonprofits that are volunteer run.

The applicaton requires that a business license be attached. However, the county no longer issues business licenses to businesses in the unincorporated areas, so only businesses with a license in an incorporated city can apply. A spokesperson for Supervisor Dianne Jacob has told ECM that in response to our inquiry, the County is considering eliminating that requirement, but as of last night, the application still required a business license.

The application also requries multiple documents to prove employment and payroll deductions, which nonprofits that rely only on volunteers do not have. Yet these nonprofits have lost significant revenues due to being unable to host fundraising events and donations down due to the pandemic, limiting their ability to fund needed programs and services. The application also requires complex monthly accounting documentation that some small nonprofits may lack.

Businesses and nonprofits able to qualify are urged to apply early.  Applications will be accepted through October 16, provided funds are still available. See below for details.

Small Business Stimulus Program

For-profit and nonprofit businesses can apply for grant money if they can show losses and costs are a direct result of the pandemic.

To qualify businesses and nonprofits must have:

  • 100 or fewer employees
  • Headquarters in San Diego County
  • A minimum 1-year operating history as of Feb. 14, 2020
  • Documentation of financial hardship because of COVID-19

For more information and the application, visit the stimulus website.

Miriam Raftery, editor and founder of East County Magazine, has over 35 years of journalism experience. She has won more than 350 journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Press Club, and the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Her honors include the Sol Price Award for responsible journalism and three James Julian awards for public interest reporting from SPJ’s San Diego chapter. She has received top honors for investigative journalism, multicultural reporting, coverage of immigrant and refugee issues, politics, breaking news and more. Thousands of her articles have appeared in national and regional publications.

East County Magazine thanks the Facebook Journalism Project for support through its COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program to help  sustain reporting on vulnerable local populations and rural communities. Learn more at #FacebookJournalismProject. You can donate to support our local journalism efforts during the pandemic at