State bill aimed at helping small businesses, nonprofits gains momentum

Shopping centers across Little Saigon show the pandemic's economic impact destroying what many came here for - the American Dream.

Everywhere you look, small family-owned businesses are either shuttered, or on the brink of it.

"The trauma and the stress, the only thing that it's comparable to is how we came over here with nothing but the shirts on our back from a war. From a war called the Vietnam War. That's the only devastation and trauma we can parallel this with," said Tam Nguyen, one of the co-founders of Nailing It For America, a salon advocacy group that has fought to keep their industry alive.

Little Saigon has plenty that are desperate for a lifeline, sitting next to restaurants and cafes in the same boat.

"They're bringing in their grandparents, their children to come into work. What a predicament to be in when you have to bring in your aging grandparents to work and keep your small business open, and restaurant open, when they themselves are the most vulnerable to COVID," said Nguyen.

Now it appears there may be a glimmer of hope with a state Senate bill focused on providing grants to small businesses and nonprofits. It's gaining momentum with more than a third of legislatures supporting it.

"Our small businesses and their employees need help and they need help now," said Rep. State Sen. Andreas Borgeas of the Central Valley.

State lawmakers spoke about SB 74 Wednesday, a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his own stimulus program that included small businesses. Co-authors say they plan to work with the governor's office for the best and most urgent solutions.

"Thousands of our local small businesses have already closed their doors forever and hundreds of thousands more are teetering on the brink right now," said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, a Democrat out of Orange County.

"Without this Senate bill or without any rescue measures from the state, businesses like Studio 18 Nail Bar, like the Recess Room restaurant, we're just gonna continue to be decimated," said Nguyen.

The governor's program would provide up to $25,000 for a business. SB 74 would provide up to $75,000.
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