Apr. 7—Last summer,
“I didn't know about it either, one of the customers told me,” said Doeuk, the Cambodian owner of
Small businesses like Doeuk's — located in an under resourced neighborhood in Old North Sacramento and owned by a person of color — are exactly the sort the city hoped to target in a planned
Despite a stated goal from city staff to distribute at least 75% of the forgivable loans ranging from
The funding goal came after many in the business community criticized the city's first round of zero interest small business loans, which distributed about
“(The application period) opened Thursday, and by midnight Friday they had to close it because they were overwhelmed by the number of responses,” said
In its second round of funding, the city “pivoted pretty significantly,” said
“What we need to change fundamentally is to build more infrastructure and a systemic approach on how we get wealth generation in these minority and immigrant communities, and how we get resources and training to them consistently,”
In the subsequent fall and winter months,
“The best way to reach out was one-on-one interactions, a grassroots effort to talk to businesses,”
The city had initially planned to offer
Though it's hard to pinpoint exactly why fewer businesses applied than expected, Fritzsche said, it suggests there are likely opportunities to boost outreach.
Though the city failed to meet its goal of 75% of funding going to disadvantaged communities — which would've amounted to more than
Six out of ten businesses that received a loan of any amount were located in a disadvantaged neighborhood. Of the 1,309 loans distributed, 58% were to minority-owned businesses, and 76% to microenterprises, meaning businesses with five or fewer employees.
Fritzsche said city staff plan to continue tweaking the application and outreach process to reach businesses in low-income communities of color. For instance, city staff might consider distributing the funds simply as grants than forgivable loans, since some business owners hesitant are to the idea of applying for a loan.
“These are communities where the businesses are the anchors, the ones that keep the neighborhood vibrant and growing,”
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