Governor authorizes GEDA business assistance programs, additional documents needed

GEDA: The Guam Economic Development Authority front office sign is shown in March 2020. Post file photo

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has granted authorization for two Guam Economic Development Authority grant programs - funding to assist the remainder of businesses that applied for the rental assistance program, and the Small Business Pandemic Assistance 2021 program.

But according to acting Administrator Joann Camacho, GEDA needs additional documentation in the form of an executive order and memorandum of understanding to obtain funds and execute the programs. 

"We're working on it right now. The governor is very busy right now but we're working as fast as we can because we know that businesses need the help and support," Camacho said.

The programs will be funded by American Rescue Plan money. 

GEDA initially requested more than $30 million for various programs. Camacho said the agency will have to scale back based on what it will be receiving, which would be about $26.8 million. 

"The governor has discretion over the funds, and she has a lot of other different programs and departments to support. ... But it fits. What we're given is pretty much exactly what we got last year," Camacho said. 

The rental assistance program was initiated last year.

More than 690 businesses were approved for the program but the $3 million funding allotment ran out before all of the businesses could receive their grants. Demand exceeded supply by about $1.8 million and 292 businesses were left without aid. The program will be receiving the remaining $1.8 million. 

Funding for the program initially was not part of the COVID-19 relief funding received from Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, money and was pieced together from sources that did not spend their relief funding.

The SBPA 2021 program was authorized at $20 million. GEDA will grant qualified businesses, based on a formula, up to $50,000, according to Camacho. GEDA initially requested about $29 million for the program, which was the lion's share of the agency's funding request.

The remaining $5 million out of the scaled-back request is to fund the governor's Economic Diversification Working Group. 

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