Placer County to offer grants to help offset economic hardship from pandemic

Published June 23, 2020

Small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Placer County may be eligible for grant funding to offset negative economic impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. During today’s meeting, the Placer County Board of Supervisors directed the County Executive Office to set aside $8 million of its federal CARES Act funding to establish a grant program that would reimburse the business community and local nonprofits for eligible COVID-19 expenses.

“We know our business community, nonprofits and their employees have really suffered because of the shutdown and many are having a tough time trying to come back,” said Board Chair Bonnie Gore. “We believe this infusion of grant funding will help those hardest hit to recover and go on to prosper.”

The county intends to administer the program through partnerships with knowledgeable third parties that have experience working with local nonprofits and the business community. The grant program, which would be based on need, would provide awards of up to $10,000 to cover eligible expenses, identified by U.S. Treasury guidance. Further program details will be developed as more is learned about the scope of the financial impact on these communities in Placer County.

“I want to make sure these funds are distributed to businesses and nonprofits who demonstrate the greatest need such as those who were forced to remain closed the longest or did not receive prior assistance,” said District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “The need is likely greater than the funding so it’s imperative we distribute these funds strategically.”

The county anticipates receiving a total of $40 million from the federal CARES Act, which established a Coronavirus Relief Fund of $150 billion to provide reimbursement for COVID-19-related expenses to states and local governments. California counties with more than 500,000 in population received their funding in late April, but smaller counties, like Placer, must wait to receive funding via the state’s budget process. The county is hopeful the funds will be distributed in July.

Placer County departments anticipate their COVID-19 expenses will total approximately $32 million for costs incurred from March 1 to Dec. 30, 2020. The Board of Supervisors directed the CEO to appropriate the funding to cover the following eligible CARES Act expenditures:

  • Employee time for COVID-19 response

  • Needs for homeless care, telemedicine, medical supplies and materials

  • Laptops and phones to facilitate telework and remote delivery of county services

  • Additional employee sick leave allowed under the  Families First Coronavirus Response Act

  • Voter Service Center costs and other preparations for all-mail elections, per state order

  • Enhancements for online permitting

  • Building remodeling to facilitate video arraignment capabilities

  • Emergency Operations Center improvements

  • CARES Act community grant funding administration

  • Increased costs for office reconfigurations and disinfection services for county facilities

  • Network security enhancements

U.S. Treasury Department guidance allows coronavirus relief funds to be used for “necessary expenditures” such as direct costs to address medical and public health needs and secondary costs such as providing economic support to those businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

Placer County’s 20% appropriation to the business and nonprofit sectors is the largest share in terms of percentage of any other county in California. “I think it’s a real compliment to the organization that we have so much to give back to the community thanks to the staff’s efficient use of resources,” said District 2 Supervisor Robert Weygandt. “We are in this together and it’s vital our local businesses and nonprofits prosper if we are to remain an economically vibrant county.”