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Small Business Grant Program Gets Another Cash Injection

Because the Santa Clara Unified School District has agreed to help fund youth meal programs, the City Council has expanded Santa Clara’s small business grant program, adding another $300,000 to its coffers.

Originally approved as a $500,000 grant program in early April, the Council expanded it to $800,000 late last month. The newest addition bringing the total assistance to $1.1 million.

Ruth Shikada, Assistant City Manager, told the Council the latest round of money could assist between 30 and 60 additional businesses. The program has already received 700 applications, 150 of which have been reviewed, Shikada said. Of the applications on file, 150 were timestamped in the program’s first five minutes.

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“You can see there was a big surge of applications at the time when the program opened,” Shikada said. “The need is so significant.”

Money for the Healthy Meals Santa Clara program has been coming out of the City Manager’s budget, but since the school district has agreed to chip in, that money is now available for the grant program, said City Manager Deanna Santana.

The program allows essential businesses to apply for up to $5,000 and non-essential businesses to receive up to $10,000, provided they meet some criteria, which include being in operation for at least a year, having a storefront and having more than one but fewer than 25 employees.

Santana told the Council that City employees are “squeezing” money from every available department to “cobble” something together. The City is also looking into partnering with some of its bigger businesses to see if they would be willing to put up money — something neighboring Sunnyvale has already done.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor supported the notion of looking to the City’s bigger players for help.

“We have a community that includes large and small, and all of us need to be healthy and working and successful,” Gillmor said. “We are all part of a system here. Our larger [business] community needs to step up and help us and help our small business.”

 

Tourism Improvement District Keeps Old Rate

The Council also put the final kibosh on upping the Tourism Improvement District (TID) assessment from its $1 per room per night to a percent of revenue.

That decision will hamper the newly formed Destination Marketing Organization, Visit Santa Clara, from marketing the Santa Clara Convention Center as a desirable destination for citywide events, said Eron Hodges, chair of the TID.

The Council was poised to approve moving to a percent-based model until coronavirus hit, but instead shifted quickly back to renewing the $1 rate.

With $1.6 million in reserves and a $1.25 million the first year, Hodges said how the TID is funded will have to change in the first couple of years if it aims to maintain the quality for which Visit Santa Clara is aiming.

The Convention Center had previously been managed by the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce, something the Mayor and Council have not been shy about.

“I don’t think we got good value for our money for operations in the past. We have great potential now to really make it work the right way,” Gillmor said. “The money we spent in the past was wasted.”

 

Sewer Treatment Plant To Get Facelift

The Council also agreed to finance $50 million for capital improvements on the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility.

Gary Welling, Director of Water and Sewer Utilities, told the Council the treatment plant is scheduled to undergo $1 billion worth of improvements in the next five years, and that the City is committed to $145.4 million in capital improvement costs through 2024.

Welling said he anticipates refinancing the loan, secured through JPMorgan Chase, in two to four years to a fixed rate to be paid off in 30 years. The short-term variable rate allows the City flexibility to draw the money as needed, he said.

Interest on the debt in 2021 will be roughly $600,000. The annual money needed to cover the debt — which comes from annual net revenues from the plant — is $3.5 million.

 

Consent Calendar Spending

The Council also approved the following spending via the consent calendar:

  • $6.33 million with DeSilva Gates Construction, out of Dublin, for annual street maintenance and rehabilitation
  • 3-year, $150,000 contracts with BKF Engineers, R.E.Y. Engineers, out of Folsom, and Sandis, out of Campbell for on-call, land-surveying services
  • Funding agreement with CoreSite Real Estate for $700,000
  • $95,000 to increase to the youth soccer fields and athletic facilities with Reed & Grant Street and $50,000 for “additional construction support services related to the Reed and Grant Street Sports Park Project”

The Council meets again Tuesday, June 9 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.

Members of the public can participate via Zoom: https://santaclaraca.zoom.us/j/99706759306 (meeting ID: 997-0675-9306), by phone: 1(669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or via email to PublicComment@santaclaraca.gov.

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