BY MATTHEW CHOI TAITANO
The Leon Guerrero Tenorio Administration has set aside up to $20 million for the Guam Small Business Pandemic Assistance Grant program. The program provides grants to small businesses (up to $50,000 per applicant) experiencing interruptions due to COVID-19.
On the Guam Economic Development Authority’s website is a list of businesses that applied for the grant, but not whether these applications were approved or denied.
“As of July 7, we have received 2,188 applications. Of those applications, 1,435 are complete and 753 continue to be in process,” said GEDA CEO and administrator Melanie Mendiola. “Applications are kept in process generally because applicants forget to turn in something or turn in something other than what we needed.”
According to Department of Administration Director Edward Birn, as of July 9 there were 854 “checks received” from GEDA. He said the total dollar value of checks received from GEDA was $4.52 million; of checks already mailed, $2.78 million; and of checks to be mailed, $1.74 million.
In addition, Mendiola said the largest applicant pool came from 24 businesses that received $25,000 – $30,000 each in grant money. These businesses made $1.2 million – $1.4 million in annual revenue.
To gain a clear understanding of how many businesses could qualify for grants, GEDA turned to statistics from the Small Business Profile by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. According to the SBA, there were 3,493 small businesses in Guam as of 2019 and 3,556 as of 2020.
The SBA’s Small Business Profile has facts and figures on small businesses from different regions regarding economic output and employment, international trade and employment by industry and municipality.
When asked to explain the statistics, SBA Guam Branch Office Manager Kenneth Q. Lujan said, referring to the 2020 profile, “The unit of analysis in Figure 1 of the Territory profiles is establishments. According to the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns, an establishment is defined as a single physical location at which business is conducted or services or industrial operations are performed. An establishment is not necessarily equivalent to a firm, which may consist of one or more establishments.
“The size categories describe the number of employees working at establishments having fewer than 20 employees, 20 to 49 employees, 50 to 99 employees and 100 to 499 employees. Establishments having more than 500 employees are not shown.”
Furthermore, Lujan said, “[B]ased on the side note on the report, ‘All sources reflect data collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.’ It would be difficult to comment considering that this virus has changed our world completely upside down and the numbers are only a snap shot of yesterday.
“As we receive new data, it would reflect a realistic picture of our economic conditions. Until these numbers present itself, it wouldn’t be advisable to provide comments that are speculative.”
In addition to the statistics on the SBA website, the GEDA website offers a useful list of definitions (such as for “small business” and “business interruption”), eligibility qualifications, and other application requirements. There is also a section that provides a step-by-step guide on how to calculate the grant amount for which a business qualifies.
“The governor wanted the grants to be targeted toward very small businesses — more brick and mortars, rather than business with passive investments,” Mendiola said. In turn, GEDA’s definition “small business” allows for more applications, as there were more funds than the amount initially planned for the program.
In other grant news, the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program has about $130 billion in remaining funds after paying 296 small businesses within a range of $150,000 up to $2 million. The list of these businesses was revealed after demands for more transparency around the program.
Businesses still can apply until Aug. 8.
The Coronavirus relief funds became available after the CARES Act was enacted into law on Mar. 27, 2020. Guam received $117.9 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds.
Guam Chamber of Commerce, Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Korean Chamber of Commerce, Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Guam and Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association were stakeholder groups consulted in the creation of the grant program.
Visit investguam.com/smallbusiness for more information. mbj