Gov. Gavin Newsom is flanked by Fresno County Supervisor Brian Pacheco, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and Joe Prado with Fresno County's health department during a Feb. 10 appearance in Fresno. Photo by Breanna Hardy

published on May 13, 2021 - 11:59 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced a proposal to expand the state’s Covid-19 small business relief program to a total of $4 billion.

He said the new $1.5 billion infusion would make it the largest such small business relief program in the country.

So far, about 198,000 small businesses and nonprofits either have been or will be awarded relief grants for a total of $475 million.

The proposal is part of Newsom’s $100 billion California Comeback Plan that he has been previewing all week as part of his midyear budget update as the state’s budget surplus hits $75.7 billion.

“This is money in the pockets of business owners to make payroll and cover the bills as we prepare to fully reopen California’s economy on June 15,” Newsom said in a statement.

The proposal also includes:

— $895 million investment in the State Small Business Credit Initiative to strengthen programs that support financing of small businesses
increasing the California Competes tax credit program to $360 million and establishing a one-time $250 million grant program to incentivize businesses to relocated to California

— $250 million for ports to address revenue loss and bolster activity

—$200 million in sales tax exclusions to promote green manufacturing

— $147 million for the Main Street Small Business Tax Credit to assist small businesses that have hired and retained workers since Q2 2020

— $95 million to promote the state’s tourism industry

The news was met with enthusiasm by one of the state’s largest business advocacy groups.

“With federal money through Paycheck Protection Program loans having run its course, the governor’s announcement today that California would step in to fill the void for small businesses still in need of financial help is welcome news for mom-and-pop enterprises that have been hanging on for dear life this past year,” said John Kabateck, California state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s largest and leading small-business association.

“They don’t need more debt, they need resources that will get their lights back on, people back to work, and communities growing once again, which is why grants are the ideal resource. They don’t have to be paid back. We appreciate Governor Newsom taking this big step.”

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