Nearly a thousand corporations benefited from B-Cares, Bakersfield says in this system’s breakdown | information

Restaurants, hotels, and personal care companies have been the primary beneficiaries of Bakersfield’s B-Cares Coronavirus funding program.

In the first detailed breakdown of the federal government-funded project, the city of Bakersfield explained how it distributed nearly $ 6 million to 938 companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of these companies, the Wool Growers Restaurant in the old town of Kern, received the much-needed boost.

The famous company was battling many of the pandemic’s problems – no indoor dining, staff shortages, a nearly year-long economic downturn – when a massive plumbing problem hit its kitchen and forced the restaurant to close for a week in mid-January.

“When it rains, it pours,” said Christiane Camou, co-owner of Wool Growers. “We got bleeding. It was a nightmare year. “

Camou said she was concerned that she would not be able to make ends meet. Then, one morning, she received an email from the city that the B-Cares, who approved her restaurant that she requested that fall, got through.

“There really couldn’t have been better timing. I cried. Hey, we can pay the plumbers now, ”she said. “It seems like we’re going to go further into this pit. But that was great news that we needed. So grateful that we got it. “

Another local restaurant, Los Tacos de Huicho on E. 18th Street, reported that B-Cares funds were used to provide personal protective equipment to workers during the pandemic.

“That way we had people safe at home and safe at work,” said restaurant owner Nadia Nunez.

In addition, the restaurant bought a new tortilla machine to attract visitors during a slow phase caused by pandemics.

“We want our customers to know we are here,” said Nunez. “We make everything fresh.”

Unsurprisingly, restaurants and hotels, which were hardest hit by the pandemic, topped the city’s list, receiving around $ 1.7 million in funds. However, personal care services collectively received the most grants. Nearly 200 companies that provide personal care services received approximately $ 1.1 million.

Together, the two industries received far more than any other industry. The city listed the medical industry as the third highest recipient and received $ 540,000 in grants.

“We are very proud of the success of the B-CARES program and the support it offers local businesses in need,” said City Manager Christian Clegg in a statement. “We appreciate feedback from the community as they help us develop a low-barrier program to support our smallest businesses that were not eligible for other programs. We are also grateful for the great job our finance department not only creating this program, but executing it in an extremely short time. “

The city spread out over a four-month period, granting companies between $ 5,000 and $ 20,000, depending on the number of employees. Grants could be used to reimburse the cost of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Targeting businesses with 25 or fewer employees, the city sought to help owners and operators who, according to city research, were overlooked by previous loan programs like the Payroll Protection Program and Kern Recovers due to low or no labor costs.

The city’s employees had to invest long hours to get the program up and running from scratch. With an online platform and hundreds of applications to review, finance director Randy McKeegan said his office would have to work extra hard to get funds out on time.

“It took me and my staff many hours of work just to review these applications,” he said. “I worked quite a bit over the weekend to have things checked out. But we did it and at the end of the day it was a successful program. We felt we were bringing funds to companies that really needed them. “

In total, the city supported 17 industries and touched almost all aspects of life. A total of around $ 3.9 million went to companies with five or fewer employees.

“It’s not a huge dollar amount,” McKeegan said. “But at least it helped them get a month’s rent, or maybe it was supplies or materials.”

Of the 447 rejected applications, 43 percent received no grant because their business was outside the city limits. Other reasons for rejection were companies that applied without a company license. Some companies did not operate as required a year before March 1, 2020, others were duplicate applications.

While the program is now closed, the city said its success could lead to local officials re-examining the issue in case more funds become available in the future.

California news editor Teddy Feinberg contributed to this report.

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