BY MAUREEN N. MARATITA and
While the Guam Economic Development Authority has dispersed more than $21 million in grants locally through CARES Act funding, 292 businesses that applied for rent relief are still waiting to hear if they will get help.
GEDA does not know if or when it will receive an additional $1.75 million in rent relief funding, but is optimistic. As of Jan. 20, 1,039 businesses applied for the grant, which pays up to two months of rent relief. Just under 290 businesses were ruled ineligible.
David J. John, chairman and CEO at ASC Trust LLC and chairman of GEDA; told the board on Jan. 21 at its meeting, “We will continue to follow up with the front office to see if we can free up that $1.7 million.”
GEDA has approved 695 applications for rental relief grants, and as at Jan. 21 had distributed 403 checks totaling just under $3 million.
Funding was based on order of receipt and completed applications.
Melanie R. Mendiola, GEDA administrator said at the board meeting, “We sent out letters saying we were able to process more than 400 awards, but unfortunately, there were no remaining funding at this time, even though they may have met the eligibility requirements. We’re pending available funds for them.”
Grant recipients can expect to be audited to make sure businesses are using the money appropriately, she said.
Those businesses that applied are now listed on the GEDA site at
www.investguam.com/wp-content/uploads/rentassistance, as is their status to include those that received grants, those deemed ineligible and those that are awaiting grants through additional funding.
The 16-page list is not only a Who’s Who of Guam businesses but show how the pandemic lockdown has affected them.
Those awaiting funding include retail, service and hospitality industry businesses such as
Coffee Slut LLC; Crowns Guam LLC; Gemkell Group; Lin’s Jewelry Co.; Mosa’s Hot Box; Nakicos Corp, which does business as Subway Guam; Pacific Dining LLC, which does business as Lonestar Steakhouse & Saloon; Rambies Corp., which does business as Rambies Fast Food; Reflections Hair Salon Inc.; Toves Flower Shop Inc.; The Kracked Egg Inc.; and Triple J Restaurant Group Inc.
Rents range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per month in Guam, depending on size and location.
Elizabeth C. Duenas, associate broker of RE/MAX Diamond Realty, told the Journal that $1.25 to $1.50 per square foot is a common rent amount for businesses such as those listed above. “Those would be considered the middle of the range,” she said. That would equate to $3,000 or $4,000 per month, she said. As for businesses sited in more expensive locations such as Tumon, she said for monthly rent, “A restaurant could be $3,000 to $6,000,” depending on size.
The GEDA rental grants are capped at $15,000 per recipient.
GEDA provided the Journal with the above breakdown by number and dollar amount.
A GEDA rental grant is a plus, Duenas said. “It definitely helps.” What would help more, she said, is to allow businesses to open more and reap more revenue. “Many are closing.”
In addition, Duenas said, money that tenants get for their own rental relief is not reaching landlords.
“Many of the landlords are suffering.” She said money given to tenants is not always passed on for rent and instead is being used for new vehicle deposits and in some cases discretionary purchases like jewelry.
“They should have put a caveat that the money goes to the landlord.”
Edward Camacho, business development manager at GEDA said the agency is awaiting news of funding for those applicants that have not yet received rent relief grants. “That’s why we’ve not closed out the program yet.”
GEDA is not taking new applications for that grant, but is standing by to take advantage of any other grant programs it can, Camacho said.
“We’re ready to do other grant programs if we get funding.”mbj