Four Honolulu credit unions continue to distribute grants to small businesses

on "June 17, 2020 10:01 am"

At a press conference on June 16, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced another $25 million was added to the City and County of Honolulu’s Small Business Relief and Recovery Program to help small businesses financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

vince pressconferenceThe money is part of nearly $400 million in federal CARES Act funds the city needs to expend by the end of 2020. The funds are being distributed by Aloha Pacific FCU, Hawaii State FCU, HawaiiUSA FCU, and Honolulu FCU (HOCU). Membership in these credit unions is not required. The site for details and applications was updated at noon on June 17. Applications already submitted will be held in queue and processed accordingly by the servicing credit union.

Mayor Caldwell noted 70% - 75% of businesses in Honolulu are considered small. In the first round of the program, over 2,600 grants were distributed with a total grant amount of over $20,150,000. (The remainder of the first round of grants is expected to run out by the end of this week.) The average grant amount was over $7,600.

“We have to help our small businesses stay in business,” Caldwell said. “They are the basic infrastructure of our economy. We need to preserve this infrastructure as we open up, otherwise there will be nothing to open up into.”

The changes to the second round of grants in this program include:

  • Expanding to businesses with 50 or less employees and less than $2 million in gross annual revenue.
  • Adding farmers and farms with eligibility to be determined by tax map key of the farming plot.
  • Adding community “Support Groups” contact information on to assist applicants with language issues and a lack of computer skills.

Mayor Caldwell praised the four participating credit unions for working tirelessly on getting funds to small businesses.

Aloha Pacific FCU President/CEO Vince Otsuka noted all four credit unions have staff working seven days a week to get the money distributed. He said the credit unions are definitely making an impact.

“We had numerous business owners come to us in tears because they are so happy to be part of this program,” Otsuka shared. “These are people who didn’t think their businesses were going to survive.”

Otsuka learned many of the small businesses did not qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program, the SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. If they did, Otsuka said, it the amount granted was small.

“What this program did was fill the gap and help these small businesses survive.”