Today, the City and County of Honolulu announced that an additional $25 million will be added to the Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund, bringing the total funds provided for this program to $50 million. These funds are from the Coronavirus Relief Act of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding that provided $387 million to the City and County of Honolulu to deal with the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19. Federal guidance allowed the City to provide reimbursable grants to small businesses.
Since the launch of the program on May 18, the response has been overwhelming. To date, over 5,000 applications have been received with over $20 million disbursed. These funds are being disbursed by four partner credit unions – Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union, Hawai‘i State Federal Credit Union, Hawai‘i USA Federal Credit Union, and Honolulu Federal Credit Union. The City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) has collaborated with these community credit unions to receive grant applications and disburse funds. After consultation with partner credit unions and assessing approval and distribution rates, it has been determined that the first $25 million will likely be all disbursed this week. Going forward, the threshold of eligible businesses will be increased to fifty or fewer employees and less than $2 million in annual revenue to allow more small businesses to apply. Farmers are also eligible to apply with appropriate proof of field of cultivation, to be determined by Tax Map Key or lease of Tax Map Key.
“Expanding this opportunity to additional small businesses on O‘ahu is vital right now,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “This added funding may be what it takes to keep businesses from shutting down their doors for good and if not that, relieves a huge burden. It’s incumbent upon our small businesses to make the necessary changes to keep everyone in our community safe, not just right now, but ahead of future threats as well. Whether it’s increasing physical distance between employees and customers, installing Plexiglas, or implementing additional sanitation measures, we know this next tranche of money will go a long way at providing everyone on O‘ahu with a much safer future.”
Applicants are encouraged to read carefully the Program Qualifications and Required Information for Application tabs on the Small Business Relief and Recovery page of the City’s OneOahu.org website to determine if your business meets the qualifications guidelines and to prepare your documents for application. This is a reimbursement grant, meaning proof of payment is required for funds to be distributed. Examples of expenses include Rent, Utilities, Payroll, and implementing Physical Distancing Measures and other safety requirements to comply with business opening and operating. The qualifications can be found on the OneOahu.org site starting tomorrow at 12 p.m. At this time, only businesses that operate from a physical location accepted for a commercial operation can qualify. Businesses with P.O Boxes, Care Of addresses, and home occupations from residential addresses do not qualify. The program is also open to 501(c)(3) and 501c)(19) non-profit organizations.
“If we didn’t take the time to help out and offer our resources, I’m not sure if these small businesses on O‘ahu would be able to survive the pandemic and beyond,” said Vince Otsuka, President and CEO of Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union. “Knowing that our team was able to have a hand in helping these businesses stay afloat and navigate these unprecedented times falls in line with our mission of Building Lasting Relationships, something we’ve been dedicated to for the last 80 years. I got the chance to speak with many of the business owners who took part in this City program and they were extremely grateful for the assistance. For some, this is all the assistance they were able to receive during these tough times. And my workers were dedicated and motivated to work through the week and also on weekends to help applicants. It was truly an uplifting experience for them and incredibly fulfilling for me.”Each qualifying small business may receive benefits as a one-time payment. Businesses that have already received assistance through the City’s Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund cannot apply for a second time. Proper documentation must accompany an application to demonstrate hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide up to $10,000 to each qualified business with less than $2,000,000 in gross annual revenue and fifty or fewer employees. This is a change from the thresholds set when the program was launched initially on May 18. The fund will not reimburse payments applied from another Federally-funded CARES Act Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), etc. The OneOahu.org website will close for applications today so information can be updated and will reopen for new applications at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17. Those who have already submitted applications will be held in queue by the respective servicing credit union.
More information on the City’s Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund will be posted on OneOahu.org.