District 5 awards grants, not loans, to micro-businesses

The program will serve as a model for a city-wide program launching next week

SAN ANTONIO – A pilot program that began as a way to boost small business development on the West Side became a financial lifeline for micro-businesses there, when the Covid-19 pandemic began spreading throughout the city of San Antonio.

“When Covid-19 hit, we knew that we needed to redirect the funds to small businesses directly,” said Shirley Gonzales, who represents District 5 on City Council.

Gonzales said many of the mom-and-pop establishments, micro-businesses with five or fewer employees, that are the “backbone of our community,” missed out on the controversial Paycheck Protection Program that gave millions in loans to major companies.

RELATED: These San Antonio businesses received millions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program loans

"They're the ones who are less likely to have relationships with existing banks or lawyers and accountants on staff to immediately help them apply for funds," Gonzales said.

She said that’s why she kept the application process simple.

According to LiftFund, a community-based lender that teamed up with Gonzales’ office, eight micro-businesses were each awarded $5,000 grants, not loans.

She said the city funds she set aside for the program on the West Side are almost depleted.

But, Gonzales said the program will serve as a model for a city-wide program launching next week that will provide not only more funding, but also mentors and other resources to help small businesses.

RELATED: These Texas businesses received $5-10 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Bill Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.