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Salt Lake County launches new grant program for small businesses hurt by COVID-19

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Violet Campos, owner of LunaMoon Salon and Barbershop, gives Lily Pinon a haircut at her shop in Taylorsville on Thursday, June 11, 2020. Campos applied for COVID-19 relief grants but said she was denied because her business was too small.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

TAYLORSVILLE — For many local entrepreneurs, having to close their doors during the coronavirus outbreak was a particularly difficult hardship, especially for those who were unable to secure funds from the $2 trillion federal coronavirus aid distributions.

Beginning next week, however, some of those small-business owners are hoping a new funding program will offer one last chance at survival.

Salt Lake County announced Thursday the launch of the Small Business Impact Grant program beginning June 16. The $40 million program will be funded through the county’s allocation from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, and is designed to help enterprises most affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Violet Campos, 55, owner of LunaMoon Salon and Barbershop in Taylorsville, unsuccessfully applied for a CARES loan and has spent nearly three months with no income. She says the new county program is her last hope of keeping her business going.

“I’ve been working so hard for three years to build this barbershop and salon, so it means a lot (to apply for a grant),” she said. “It means that I have an opportunity. Otherwise I have to go out of business and I don’t want to go out of business. Then I’ll be owing all this money — the rent that is behind, the bills that are behind, the employees that I lost, the clientele that isn’t here because we were closed for about three months.”


Lili Padilla pulls Jeremias Lopez’s mask momentarily out of the way as she gives him a haircut at LunaMoon Salon and Barbershop in Taylorsville on Thursday, June 11, 2020.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

“I want to be able to continue business with my employees and be able to provide for my family,” Campos said. “This is what I love doing.”

Businesses can apply for up to $35,000, and cannot have already received financial aid through federal, state or local COVID-19 programs funded through the CARES Act.

“We know the county’s small businesses have endured so many difficulties these past three months as the community navigated the initial impact of this novel virus, and continue to do so today,” said Dina Blaes, director of Salt Lake County’s Office of Regional Development. “This program will meet some of that immediate need while we collaborate and strategize with partners on additional resources to put in place for long-term economic recovery.” 

Blaes said the county is trying to connect the dots between the county health orders and the businesses that were most directly impacted.

“That’s arts and entertainment, event centers and theaters, galleries and museums, and the independent artists or performers who are part of that. (Also) the fitness industry — gyms and yoga studios. Of course, food service establishments, restaurants, caterers, food trucks. Health and wellness, so that’s massage therapy and spas, recreation. Tourism, so tour companies and meeting planners,” she said.

“It might be recreation equipment, rental places and accommodations, then salon and cosmetologists and estheticians. Anybody who’s sort of in what we would call a personal services industry, (like) tattoo, piercing, barber shops, nail salons, lash salons — that really absolutely had to close down after the March 23 health order.”

She said the program is expected to benefit more than 1,100 locally run small businesses and their employees. 

“With these funds, we have a deep commitment to help a multitude of small businesses in Salt Lake County,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “We know businesses have been hampered as COVID-19 has required serious public health measures. They have made huge sacrifices to achieve this goal as a community, and we appreciate the seriousness in which owners have taken employee and customer safety. As part of our economic impact and recovery strategy, we must ensure businesses most directly affected have hope and are supported.” 


Violet Campos, owner of LunaMoon Salon and Barbershop, puts an open sign on top of her car to direct customers to the establishment in Taylorsville on Thursday, June 11, 2020. Campos applied for previous government grants and said she was denied because her business was too small.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Approved applicant businesses will receive grant amounts based on documented losses and expenses related to COVID-19. Eligible businesses must be located in Salt Lake County, have fewer than 100 workers, have been in operation before Jan. 1, and must have been directly impacted due to the mandated public health orders.

The application will be available in English, with direct application support available in Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Vietnamese, Blaes said. Prospective applicants who require assistance can call 385-468-4011 for help. 

Webinars will be conducted to discuss the program and answer any questions from businesses about eligibility and the application process, according to a news release. Additional grant details can be found at slco.org.


Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson speaks during a press conference to announce the COVID-19 Small Business Impact Grant at Carriage Square in Taylorsville on Thursday, June 11, 2020. According to the county, $40 million will be available to qualifying small businesses in grants up to $35,000.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News