Mayor Caldwell announces new relief and recovery fund for small businesses

Coronavirus

HONOLULU(KHON2) — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announces a Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund to help small local businesses who need it most, like mom and pop shops, and other Honolulu restaurants and stores that have been hit hard by COVID-19.

Kailua General Store owner Steven Parker knows the struggle first hand.

“I had to close–I can’t be open. And even if I could be open, there’s no one around.”

Parker said most of his business came from tourism. He’s not sure he and other businesses like his will survive.

“If more isn’t done, these businesses are shutting down. It’s going to be a ghost town.”

Parker isn’t alone. Small businesses around Oahu are struggling. Mayor Kirk Caldwell is promising to set aside millions to help them stay afloat

“As we go forward with (reopening), we’re announcing the Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund. It’s a $25 million dollar relief fund. It’s coming out of our CARES money,” Caldwell said.

The city received $387 million in funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress on March 27, 2020.

Caldwell said that if the relief fund works, he will add another $25 million to it for a total of $50 million.

In order to qualify, the business must operate on Oahu, have a commercial address — they can’t operate out of a house — the can have no more than 30 employees and their annual revenue cannot exceed $1 million.

Businesses that do qualify can get up to $10,000.

The city will begin accepting applications on Monday, May 18 via oneoahu.org

Funds will be distributed through four credit unions: Hawaii State Federal Credit Union, Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union, Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union, and Honolulu Federal Credit Union.

Hawaii State Federal Credit Union president Andrew Rosen said that although they are assisting with the fund, businesses do not need to be credit union members in order to receive the grant.

Rosen said the application process will be straight forward but it will also be thorough.

“We will have checks and balances in place to make sure only eligible businesses receive the grants,” Rosen said.

Caldwell said the money can used for a number of things.

“It can be used to cover business costs, such as paying rent, and overhead or utilities, and those kinds of things. What I find the most significant is, it can help cover the cost of modifications as we open up.”

According to Caldwell, the money can be used to enhance a shop or restaurant’s social distancing measures between employees and customers, adding physical barriers like plexi glass, or moving cash registers farther apart. It can also be used for implementing online shopping options, curbside pick-up and even providing hand sanitizing stations.

Department of Economic Development executive director Ed Hawkins said the goal is to get the money to businesses as quickly as possible.

“We want to turn around applications in three business days and get funds out no later than five to seven business days. And if they meet all requirements they go to top of the list,” Hawkins explained.

Mayor Caldwell’s full press conference discussing the Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund can be seen below.

Watch in the video above.

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