City of Fresno gives out $3.5 million in grants to small businesses

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno City officials are hoping thousands of dollars given out to small businesses will give owners some relief as they navigate changes due to the pandemic.

About 700 businesses ranging from restaurants to clothing shops applied for and received grants.

Inside Onserf Distribution, clothing is screen-printed at its shop.

Located in Fresno's Chinatown, near Downtown Fresno, the owner has seen challenges.

"Once the pandemic hit and we after we got shut down, we had to go online. That is something we've been learning and it's been helping out a lot. So we're primarily online," said Doug Seibert Jr.

Onserf is Fresno spelled backward. Doug Seibert Jr. runs Onserf and received a grant through the City of Fresno.

"I've been using the money for rent, PG&E, so it's been able to free up money that is coming in," Seibert Jr. said.

Back in March when the shelter in place went into effect, the city council allocated $750,000 for small businesses. The city also received CARES Act funding to give out in grants.

"We've given out a little bit more than $3.5 million to small businesses. About 735 small businesses have been recipients of that money. So we're hoping most of them use it to pay the rent, pay their employees, working capital, just to keep them going to get the lights on," said Lupe Perez, Fresno Economic Director.

Businesses from stores to restaurants applied and those with 25 employees or less were given consideration.

Over at Mariscos El Patron, the restaurant is serving its customers everything from sushi to Salvadoran to Mexican food and more.

"It's been a hard time, we've been struggling a lot. But thanks to God, I've received help from the city and our customers are very loyal," said Gloribel Vides.

With the grant, the owner was able to pay rent, utilities and tried to help employees, but says it's been difficult.

The grant program for small businesses is over. However, the city has $830,000 in revolving loan funds. Owners can apply for $10,000 to $100,000. Interest is waived for the first 6 months.

As for restaurant owner Vides, she keeps working one day at a time.

"I hope there are no more shut downs. I don't know if anybody can survive three months with no income," Vides said.
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