San Diego County sets aside $5 million for small business loan program

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 will offer no- interest and low-interest loans to businesses in county’s unincorporated areas


San Diego County supervisors unanimously agreed Tuesday, April 21, to fund a $5 million recovery loan program for small businesses operating in the region’s unincorporated areas.

The program, funded by the county and administered by the nonprofit San Diego Foundation, will provide no-interest and low-interest loans to small businesses suffering hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses in the unincorporated areas with fewer than 50 employees could qualify for a loan of up to $50,000 with up to 2 percent interest, to be paid back within two years.

County Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Jim Desmond, who co-authored the proposal Tuesday, April 21, said many small businesses are on the fence right now about whether to stay in business. Immediate access to funds can help them stay afloat.

“While cities and other levels of government are also taking action, the county needs to do all it can to ease the losses in our unincorporated areas as well,” Jacob said.

As it launches its small business loan program, the county joins several cities in the region who’ve taken a similar approach.

At the end of March, the City of San Diego approved 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 last week for businesses with 50 or fewer 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 proposal this week.

The $5 million from the county also factors into larger efforts by the San Diego Foundation and other partners to provide small businesses relief through the San Diego County COVID-19 Small Business and Nonprofit Loan Program. That program, which is the mechanism for how the county funds will be distributed, is expected draw contributions from other local governments, philanthropists and entities.

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