1,131 small businesses obtain GEDA pandemic grants, 839 still in process

GUEST SPEAKER: Guam Economic Development Agency administrator Melanie Mendiola discusses the reopening of Guam's economy and the tools GEDA is offering businesses to assist them in reopening during the Rotary Club meeting on Thursday in Tamuning. Haruo Simion/The Guam Daily Post

At least 1,131 small businesses hurting from the COVID-19 crisis have obtained pandemic grants from the Guam Economic Development Authority.

An additional 839 are still being processed, GEDA Administrator Melanie Mendiola told members of the Rotary Club of Guam during its Thursday luncheon meeting at 3 Squares Restaurant in Tamuning. She spoke about GEDA's assistance programs aimed at helping businesses and Guam's economic recovery.

Actual grant awards ranged from $50 to $30,000. The grants awarded so far total about $5.8 million, and the ones still under review could bump the total awards up to about $12 million.

Because it's a grant, there is no requirement for repayment among eligible small businesses directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

About 155 other applications were deemed ineligible.

Expanded program

GEDA expanded on Monday its pandemic assistance program, so that more small businesses can get the help they need.

On the first day of the expanded program alone, some 20 small businesses previously not eligible to apply because they make more than $1.5 million a year were able to turn in their application.

The maximum grant award has also been raised to $50,000.

Mendiola encouraged those who fall under the U.S. Small Business Administration's definition of small business to apply for the GEDA grant.

"You are welcome to apply whether or not you received EIDL (SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program) or PPP (SBA's Paycheck Protection Program)," Mendiola told Rotarians.

PPP up for extension

Meanwhile, Congress passed a bill seeking to extend the PPP to Aug. 8 after it expired on June 30 with some $134 billion in remaining funds.

The bill awaits President Donald Trump's decision.

As of June 27, additional 2,098 small businesses on Guam were able to receive $195 million in the second round of PPP, a forgivable SBA loan program meant to help small businesses keep their payroll. 

Agriculture, aquaculture

Mendiola, at the Rotary Club meeting, also announced the administration's plans to expand Guam's agriculture and aquaculture.

Last year, she said, the administration launched a program that allowed local farmers to directly supply some local public schools' cafeteria with local produce.

"The Department of Education has not bought local produce since the Gutierrez administration," she said. The Gutierrez administration ended in 2003.

More agriculture-related bills are also in the pipeline, including one that would allow expanded apprenticeship programs and help beekeepers.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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