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Independent Voice

Merchants Finally See State Grant Monies

May 21, 2021 12:00AM ● By Debra Dingman

Mayor Steve Bird and the City's Economic Development/Grants Manager Larry Burkhardt hand over grant money to Diane Long, Dixon's BurgerIM Restaurant Owner. Photo: City of Dixon

"This is a really big deal being in a small town that is often difficult to get a large enough staffing pool from”

DIXON, CA (MPG) - Blessings flowed freely this past week when seven local merchants received COVID-Relief grants hand-delivered by Mayor Steve Bird and Economic Development/Grants Manager Larry Burkhardt after more than a year’s wait from the State of California.

The funds, which totaled more than $250,000, are part of the federal CARES Act, distributed by formula to California’s non-entitlement cities—those with less than 50,000 population.

“I feel so blessed to have been awarded the community development grant,” said Lindsey Hickman, owner of the Barn & Pantry in downtown Dixon. “With this we have been able to hire additional employees and offer more than minimum wage for all of our staff. This is a really big deal being in a small town that is often difficult to get a large enough staffing pool from.”

Hickman was one company who pursued the grant advertised through Burkhardt. The City’s Small Business Support Program objective is to assist local small businesses significantly impacted by the pandemic to retain jobs—particularly those within the low and moderate income categories. The City invited local businesses to apply for the Program in February.

“Program funding is made available in the form of forgivable loans,” explained Burkhardt. “If the business is successful in meeting its job retention goals after 120 days, the loan is forgiven.”

“They could apply for up to $10,000 per employee for full time equivalents. For example, if a business owner had four employees, he could apply for $40,000. The requirement is that they have to retain them for 120 days and the loan is forgiven. If they only retain two at the end of 120 days, they are responsible for paying back half of that loan. It’s a percentage,” Burkhardt explained.

“When the State announced it, they said it would be a streamline process but it has taken a year and I yelled a lot and got the attention of the state and frankly, I think we were the first one,” he added. “They had released the funds last June but it got hung up. It’s a very bureaucratic process.”

Businesses receiving funding include The Heritage Pantry , Punjabi Dhaba, Country Inn & Suites, Schroeder Laundry, BurgerIM, Supercuts and Subway.

“We will be extending our dinner hours as soon as we feel like the new staff members are fully trained and we can fill the schedule,” said Hickman. “With the extra funds we have also been able to improve some of our equipment, put on a fresh coat of paint on the building, and continue to bring the community next level service.”

The City has applied for round two funding for the Program and anticipates approval by the California Department of Housing and Community Development sometime in the summer. At that time, it will solicit applications for the second round.

“Huge thank you to Larry Burkhardt who really waded through a ton of paperwork and maneuvered through all the hoops that go along with pulling in a federal grant like this for our town,” added Hickman. “The impact of his work is tangible for Dixon.”

Businesses with questions about the program can contact Larry Burkhardt, Economic Development/Grants Manager at 707 678-7000, ext. 1126.