County supervisors to consider funding $5 million small business loan program Tuesday

The newly renovated San Diego County Board of Supervisors Meeting Chambers. Photographed January 28, 2020 during a supervisors meeting.
(Howard Lipin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The program, which would be funded by the county and administered by the San Diego Foundation, will offer no-to-low interest loans for businesses in the unincorporated areas


San Diego County supervisors will vote Tuesday, April 21, on whether to partner with the San Diego Foundation to establish a $5 million recovery loan program for small businesses operating in the region’s unincorporated areas.

The program, if approved, would be funded by the county and administered by the nonprofit San Diego Foundation with the intent of providing no-to-low interest loans to small businesses suffering hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees and located in the unincorporated areas could qualify for a loan of up to $50,000 with an interest rate that does not exceed 2 percent, according to the board letter. The term of the loan would be no greater than two years.

County Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Jim Desmond, the authors of the board proposal, said the program can help struggling businesses get resources they need during this crisis.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and they’re in a world of pain right now,” said Jacob in an email. “While cities and other levels of government are also taking action, the county needs to do all it can to ease the losses caused by the COVID crisis in our unincorporated area, and to help set employers and employees on a path to recovery.”

If supervisors move forward with the proposal, the county will join several other cities in the region with similar loan programs.

At the end of March the City of San Diego moved forward with a $6.1 million relief package that included grants and loans — from $10,000 to $20,000 — for city businesses with 100 workers or fewer, while the City of San Marcos set aside $3 million for a business sustainability loan program.

The City of Poway also created a $2 million business loan program this week to assist city businesses with no more than 50 full-time employees. And Coronado is considering drawing $2 million out of its reserves to support a business loan program. Its City Council is expected to vote on a program proposal next week.

Desmond, the coauthor of the county’s proposal, said the county’s program could help businesses get up and running quickly when public health orders are eventually lifted.

“I’ve heard from hundreds of business owners who are eager to get back to work and willing to follow the safety protocols,” Desmond said. “Hopefully with this loan program and their understanding we can get the economy up and running sooner!”

The Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal Tuesday, April 21, at their 9 a.m. meeting. Although residents are not allowed to attend in person, they can watch the meeting online and offer input on agenda items in writing through the county’s website or by dialing in during the meeting at (619) 531-4716.

— Charles T. Clark is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune