Phoenix Approves More COVID-19 Money For Small Businesses
Phoenix leaders must figure out how to spend $293 million in federal coronavirus relief funds.
During Thursday’s council meeting, members were split on whether to start allocating money in different areas right away or come up with a comprehensive plan before designating specific funds as suggested by Mayor Kate Gallego.
“It just seems like any number will never be enough but we ought to balance the many, many needs and try to hit as many of the needs that council prioritizes,” she said.
Vice Mayor Betty Guardado made a motion to allocate $3 million into small business relief, citing the Phoenix IDA program which quickly burned through its original two million.
“People need the relief now,” said District 8 Councilmember Carlos Garcia, who made a friendly motion to increase the amount to $5 million.
The council unanimously agreed to appropriate another $5 million into the Phoenix IDA program. About 60 small businesses that qualified but failed to get grants because the funds ran out will get first dibs. Businesses impacted by the coronavirus are eligible for grants up to $10,000.
The action came two days after Economic Development Director Christine Mackay told the council, “We estimate that 20 to 25% of Phoenix small businesses won’t exist when this pandemic is over.”
Garcia also made a motion to allocate $10 million in utility and rent assistance but it failed by a single vote. The topic will be discussed early next week when staff members present more information on utility and rent relief, additional small business assistance COVID-19 testing for all city employees.