SALINAS VALLEY — A virtual town hall meeting will take place Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. in order to discuss local economies and the resources available in South Monterey County.

The May 14 meeting coincides with an extension made to special loans for local businesses after no applications were received for the $260,000 in funding.

Since the special loans were announced in April, 12 loans have been issued to businesses elsewhere in Monterey County from a general county fund, totaling $268,000, with another five applications processing as of last week. Money set aside specifically for South Monterey County, however, has gone ignored.

The original loan deadline was May 15, but that has been extended to May 31 in order to give local businesses an opportunity to apply.

“We want all the businesses in South County to know what is available to them,” said Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez, who oversees District 3, which includes South Monterey County.

Lopez said the meeting would be conducted in English but recorded and submitted for translation dubbing immediately afterward.

“This is to help our businesses survive,” he said. “We know the shelter-in-place orders have negatively affected businesses. Having rates 1 percent below prime is something you don’t see often. If it can be the difference for a business to make it through this crisis, it’s worth it.”

Lopez added, “We want them to survive. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy.”

Three speakers are planned for the town hall: Kimbley Craig, president and CEO of Monterey County Business Council; Carmen Herrera, executive director of El Pajaro CDC; and Cindy Merzon, director of Cal Coastal SBDC.

“The county and Cal Coastal has promoted the program to South County,” said Lee Takikawa, president of Cal Coastal. “King City responded immediately and mailed information to small businesses in their city.”

Elsewhere in the county, Takikawa said, “Applicants have been service- and retail-type businesses that have all experienced a severe drop in their sales due to Covid-19. They were considered ‘non-essential’ businesses that immediately experienced severe economic injury when the shelter-in-place order was implemented.”

He explained that funds so far have been used to pay for rent, payroll, utilities, vendors and insurance.

“The majority of local businesses we are assisting are appreciative of our efforts to provide a quick, affordable source of capital that is initially structured with no loan payments (up to nine months payment deferral),” Takikawa said. “They need the loans to help them pay bills at a time their business cash flow has suffered, and they are extremely worried and concerned about how long the shelter-in-place order will last and whether their businesses can survive and recover back to pre-Covid-19 sales.”

For information about the meeting or to submit a question, contact [email protected]. The Zoom meeting ID is: 920 0320 2571. The meeting will also be broadcast on Lopez’s Facebook page.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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