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Honolulu’s business grant program due to coronavirus draws thousands of applicants in first day

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Bus riders are seen in front of a complex of small businesses in the Keeaumoku Street area. The city’s grant program for Oahu small businesses netted about 2,200 applications in less than 24 hours, a city official said today.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Bus riders are seen in front of a complex of small businesses in the Keeaumoku Street area. The city’s grant program for Oahu small businesses netted about 2,200 applications in less than 24 hours, a city official said today.

The city’s grant program for Oahu small businesses netted about 2,200 applications in less than 24 hours, the city’s top economic development official told a City Council committee today.

The Small Business Relief and Recovery Program, unveiled by Mayor Kirk Caldwell last week, allows grants of up to $10,000 to businesses with no more than 30 employees or are making less than $1 million in annual revenue, and are operating out of a commercial address.

The city set aside an initial $25 million from its $387 million share of the federal government’s $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security package passed by Congress in March.

Ed Hawkins executive director of the city’s Office of Economic Development, during the Council Business, Economic Development and Tourism Committee meeting this morning, reaffirmed Caldwell’s commitment to allocate at least a second $25 million tranche toward the program.

Hawkins said the program’s web site was open for business at noon Monday and that by the time it closed for the day at 4 p.m., 1,800 businesses had already submitted their applications despite some glitches. “With a $10,000 maximum award, we were looking at anywhere from 2,300 to 2,500 applicants we could award to.”

An additional 400 or so more were receive this morning, Hawkins said.

Proceeds from the program can be used for general operating expenses and to modify establishments to comply with rules for reopening that can include required spacing between customers.

Applications for grants are being processed on a first-come, first-served basis. More information including how to apply are available at oneoahu.org.

The city program is being established after about 11,000 Hawaii small businesses obtained $2 billion in potentially forgivable federal loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s $349 billion Payroll Protection Program in April. A second PPP round with $310 billion is still being processed.

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