116 small businesses chosen for Fresno's $750,000 loan program

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The city of Fresno is handing out cash from the Save Our Small Businesses fund, but the $750,000 program barely even scratched the surface of the needs it identified.

Teri Sanchez came close to losing everything when the coronavirus came to Fresno County in March.

"My business has been hit really hard," she said. "I mean, we feed groups of people. So you can imagine, the last job I had was March 13."

The timing for a complete loss of income couldn't have been much worse.

She had invested nearly everything she had into her catering and personal chef business Eat It Up Fresno.

But now the city in her business name is rescuing the business.

"We know what actions we took," said Fresno city council president Miguel Arias. "We know they were difficult to take and our businesses and our residents are suffering a lot of those consequences."

City council members Esmeralda Soria and Mike Karbassi launched the Save Our Small Businesses program with Mayor Lee Brand.

They're now giving out $750,000 in loan money the city will forgive if the businesses stay open for a year.

They chose 116 qualifying businesses in a lottery.

A lot of the money went to salons and barber shops like Tower 59, and restaurants like India's Oven and El Cochinito Contento.

But council members know this help isn't nearly enough.

They got more than 2500 applications requesting more than $8 million, so they're already working on giving out twice as much money in Round 2.

"I want to make sure that the small business owners here in the city of Fresno understand that the city council is with them, that we want to be able to help them," said council member Soria.

Council is expecting to finalize the next stage of Save Our Small Businesses by May 6, including new rules.

They're planning to make it a grant program so they can use federal money, and they're deciding which businesses should qualify.
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