City to launch reimbursement grant program geared towards helping local businesses


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Mayor Caldwell held a news conference on Sept. 17 announcing an additional $75 million in financial support set to go towards helping small businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

“On a daily basis we hear from small and local businesses, many of them on a brink of closures,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

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The funds will be dispersed in the form of a reimbursement grant for businesses making less than $5 million in revenue.

Mayor Caldwell’s announcement comes just over a week after many non-essential businesses were forced to close under the newest “stay-at-home, work-from-home” order.

“If you expend the money and you can prove you expended it, we will reimburse you,” said the mayor.

Businesses that make less than two million dollars in revenue will be able to qualify for up to $20,000 in grant money. Those making between $2 million to $5 million can get anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000.

One stipulation would be a required proof of payment.

“Understanding that if the business hasn’t paid the expense, unfortunately, we can’t reimburse them for it.”

Vince Otsuka, President and CEO of Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union

For example, if a business failed to pay rent, they would not be able to apply for the grant to satisfy the missing payment.

City officials say businesses will need to submit a copy of an invoice and receipt, like a bank check, to qualify for any type of reimbursement through the program.

Applications will be available for businesses making less than $2 million on Sept. 21. Businesses that see a revenue of $2 million to $5 million can apply starting Oct. 1.

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We are one week away from restrictions being eased under Oahu’s extended stay-at-home order.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell says when it comes to reopening, it will not be the same approach as last time. We asked the Mayor about his reopening plans and he says this time around, reopening will be done differently, meaning it will not be rushed.

“In less than three months, everything was opened, including singing in bars. And then we saw what occurred,” said the Mayor. We’re going to learn from our past mistakes. Be cautious, but try to open up more things in bigger tranches than doing 10 tranches over a short period of time.”

Mayor Caldwell says an announcement will be made hopefully in the beginning of next week and go into effect on Sept. 24.

“As you know, I mentioned retail will open at 50-percent capacity. I talked about five people in a family group or household group at parks, beaches, or trails. If you’re not part of a family group, it will be two,” said Caldwell.

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