Governor Newsom Meets Virtually with Small Business Owners Receiving Support Through the First Round of California’s Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program

Entrepreneurs discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on their businesses and how support from the state is providing a crucial financial lifeline 

Second application period is now open for businesses and nonprofits to apply and closes on February 8

Small businesses can visit to apply and learn more

Sacramento – As California small businesses continue to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom, Isabel Guzman, Director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), Dee Dee Myers, Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) and legislative leaders met today with impacted entrepreneurs who received crucial financial support through the first round of California’s Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. The program has already awarded approximately $237.5 million in the first round to just over 21,000 small businesses and will award approximately $237.5 million as part of the second round, which is open for applications through February 8.

“What distinguishes this state is our entrepreneurial spirit and our innovative economy, and that’s in large part thanks to our small businesses,” said Governor Newsom. “This pandemic-induced recession has had a profound impact, demanding that companies adapt to protect their employees and customers and also their bottom line, none more so than our small business owners. Thanks to the leadership of the Legislature and the public servants working around the clock to help struggling businesses, California is stepping up to help the businesses that drive California’s innovation and economy.”

Split into two tranches, the $500 million grant program is intended for small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. Grants range in size from $5,000 to $25,000. The application portal for Round 2 opened February 2 and will remain open through 6:00 p.m. February 8.

The Governor has proposed immediate legislative action on $575 million to more than double this year’s funding for grants to small businesses and small non-profit cultural institutions disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

“California’s small business owners have been so heavily impacted by this pandemic and the subsequent closures, as they’ve worked hard to serve their communities and keep their customers and their employees safe,” said Dee Dee Myers, Director of GO-Biz. “This grant program offers needed help for these entrepreneurs as they continue to fight for their dreams, rebuilding and adapting to this quickly changing marketplace.”


Governor Newsom meets virtually with small business owners receiving support through the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program.

The small business owners who participated in today’s discussion stand as examples of the tenacity and diversity of California’s economy.

  • Kehinde Koyejo, owner of Oakland’s Kalm Korner, has worked hard to pivot her business online, saying that tools provided by CalOSBA’s Get Digital CA campaign this summer helped her to meet her customers’ needs while staying safe.
  • Cheryl Wilson, owner of Oakland’s Toss and Throws, has also committed herself to strengthening the e-commerce side of her small business, noting the need to be versatile following COVID-19.
  • Asha Gangwani, owner and CEO of Mountain House’s BYG Events, noted that Governor Newsom’s fast action to issue a stay-at-home order, while difficult for her business, saved countless lives, including those of potential customers.

“During this unprecedented economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of California has taken a number of actions to supplement federal economic relief efforts for small businesses, including grants, loans, tax support and credits, and fee deferrals,” said Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton). “The ongoing nature of this global pandemic means more help is needed. This grant program, established through the leadership of Governor Newsom, offers that glimmer of hope that is so needed by our small businesses, which have sacrificed so much to keep their employees and customers safe.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of our state economy, they shape the character, culture and authenticity of our neighborhoods and create opportunities for Californians to thrive and achieve the American Dream,” said Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles). “COVID-19 has impacted small businesses in unprecedented ways. I thank Governor Newsom for his leadership and partnership, and look forward to ensuring the richness of our state’s diversity and innovative, entrepreneurial spirit is reflected in this much-needed grant program.”

“From getting the email to the time when I filled it out – simple application to follow through – whole process, response was very quick. Within a week or so I got the response, best day of my life that something like this can happen to people like us,” said Asha Gangwani, owner and CEO of BYG Events.

“When I found out I was awarded the grant, I was running through my house telling my kids, ‘I got it, I got it, I got it!,'” said Cheryl Wilson, owner of Toss and Throws.

Earlier this week, CalOSBA shared preliminary data from the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program’s first round of recipients:

  • 77% of selected applicants are from underserved & disadvantaged small businesses, which are businesses owned by a minority, women or veteran owner, or businesses located in low-to-moderate income (LMI), low-wealth or rural communities (applicant may fit into more than one category)
    • 53% of selected applicants are minority-owned businesses
    • 49% of selected applicants are women-owned businesses
    • 14% of selected applicants are business owners in rural areas, and
    • 58% of selected applicants are business owners in low-to-moderate income areas
  • 61% of selected applicants are business owners in highly impacted industries, including personal care, restaurant and other eating places, child day care services, retail clothing stores, and specialty foods
  • Small businesses or non-profits in all 58 counties received awards

For more information on grant requirements and eligibility, along with links to application tips and webinars, visit

The state’s ongoing support for businesses impacted by the pandemic also includes the California Rebuilding Fund, a public-private partnership which helps small businesses in underserved communities access low-interest loans and free advisory services; the new Main Street Hiring Tax Credit, which authorized $100 million in hiring tax credit for qualified small businesses; and the elimination of the $800 minimum franchise tax for the first year of operation. The Governor’s 2021-22 State Budget proposal provides $4.5 billion for the Governor’s Equitable Recovery for California’s Businesses and Jobs plan, including $1.1 billion in immediate relief for small businesses, $353 million for workforce development and $777.5 million for a California Jobs Initiative to provide incentives targeted at accelerating investment and job creation.