From ‘concern to desperation’: City adds $25M to program aimed at helping small businesses

Updated: Jun. 17, 2020 at 5:07 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city has added $25 million in federal stimulus funds to a small business recovery program after the first $25 million was nearly depleted in less than a month.

The city announced the new funding Tuesday, saying that about 5,000 businesses have already received grants through the program.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the money is designed to help small businesses, many of them struggling in the wake of the state shutdown, stay afloat in the short-run.

“We have to help our businesses stay in business,” he said.

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The small business relief program was launched May 18, and businesses can apply for grants up to $10,000. The average grant through the program is about $7,500.

[For more information on the grant and details on how to apply, go to]

Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, said for many small businesses the situation has gone from “concern to desperation.”

A number of small businesses and Hawaii eateries have already announced they’re permanently closing, unable to weather an economic crisis that’s pushed unemployment to unprecedented levels.

Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, president of the Chinatown Business and Community Association, told Hawaii News Now that she believes as much of one third of her members could go out of business.

“Everybody is suffering,” she said.

Restaurants are also struggling to make ends meet while also following strict restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. Those include limiting the number of people allowed into a dining room at any one time and putting in place strict sanitation procedures.

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