The economic vitality committee guides the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District in areas that affect the economic health of the district. This committee has four members and is chaired by one council member. Calle 24’s Business Liaison is required to attend.
This committee keeps a watchful eye over the needs specific to our small and micro businesses as well as looking at City and private projects that could potentially bring unexpected consequences to said businesses.
On March 16th, the City and County of San Francisco issued a shut down order to all businesses considered non essential. Essential businesses as defined by the San Francisco City and County are: urgent care facilities, pharmacies, and produce/grocery markets. Food establishments could only sell take out.
This order put the other 70% of businesses in jeopardy, because if they could not have revenue they could not afford their payroll, rent, mortgage, licences, bills or personal income. This last one would bring the strain to their homes and families as well.
Calle 24’s EVC opened the lines of communication with City agencies such as the San Francisco Small Business Association (SBA) and with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) in order to make funds available to our small businesses.
The first wave of the city’s Wide Disaster Recovery Funds arrived in the form of a $10,000 grant and a $50,000 forgivable loan. These funds were exhausted within seven days.
The EVC then began to steer women proprietors towards the San Francisco Women’s Fund of $5000 until this resource was flooded 10 days later.
While the City continued to allocate unused funds from its projects to deposit into SBA and OEWD, multiple other agencies rose to assist, such as Verizon with $50,000 and the Mission Asset Fund with $5,000 loans and several more.
Still, the economic relief was not reaching the small and micro businesses as the vast majority did not meet the criteria to apply for them. By the end of April the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District began seeing micro businesses forfeiting their commercial leases and vacating their units. A tremendous blow to our commercial corridors.
Calle 24’s Business Liaison Gabriella Lozano began aggressive lease renegotiations with landlords in an effort to come to an agreement that benefited both parties involved.
She connected small restaurants with FEMA and SF NEW DEAL, these agencies required up to 1000 meals a day to feed the most vulnerable members of our society, and some restaurants used this avenue as a second source of income.
Lozano also presented business owners with alternative ways of doing business, such as moving their merchandise online and for delivery only. She also reached out to partner agencies to cross-promote businesses that are still open in order to share audiences and reach a larger geographic area of potential customers.
Calle 24’s EVC has also been instrumental in the reopening guidelines and efforts; bringing the idea of shared spaces for businesses to be able to sell their merchandise at their doorstep or temporarily from the parking spaces right in front of their establishments; requesting the City agencies to relax their permit/licencing process and requirements to be able to merge two or more businesses into one commercial unit to assist each other with rent and other payments.
We also strive to communicate all up-to-date information as we receive it from City Hall, SBA, OEWD and MEDA.
With the assistance of our Marketing Coordinator Rodrigo Durán, we have launched a more intense marketing campaign on our social media platforms in order to keep our small businesses in the public eye in an effort to help them ride this pandemic wave until they find their new normal.