At their Tuesday, December 5th meeting, City Council members discussed a variety of economic development options to help local small businesses as COVID19 pandemic challenges threaten their survival. The struggle they faced was not if they should help, but what assistance would be most effective and most prudent.

To date the City has spent $1.7 million of the previously allocated $2 million set aside for a ‘lifeline’ loan program. The discussion about the program included what to do with the remaining $300,000. The loans are zero interest and were available to small businesses that pay sales tax in Coronado.

One option discussed was to reopen the program and offer an additional $3,000 to current loan holders. Another option was to extend the repayment date out until an economic recovery begins. A final option, favored by Councilmember Sandke, was to forgive the loans altogether.

Another assistance option discussed was whether or not to approve a staff recommendation to allocate $20,000 to the Chamber of Commerce to facilitate what City Manager Blair King referred to as a virtual “Coronado Food Court.”

The delivery business is called Dine.Direct and was founded by Coronado local, Ken Irvine. Irvine called into the meeting to describe the concept and answer questions. He explained that the “hyper-local food delivery assistance program” would offer immediate and long term advantages. “It’s not just a lifeline, it’s a way to actually grow their business and have something in place when the pandemic is over.” Irvine also offered that the program would be free to restaurants until San Diego County moved out of the Purple Tier restrictions.

According to King and Irvine, the $20,000 would be used to get restaurants signed on, build the website and promote the program to locals, and other ancillary items such as technology hardware at restaurant sites. Chamber President Sue Gillingham also called into the meeting in support of funding the program, which the Chamber would oversee.

After much discussion the councilmembers finally decided to separate the options into three separate items and vote on each individually.

Council voted 5-0 to allocate $20,000 to the Chamber of Commerce to oversee the Dine.Direct order and delivery system to the local restaurant community.

Council voted 4-1 to extend the loan repayment date until December 31, 2021. Councilmember Sandke was the single ‘No’ vote stating he “is not supporting this because I need us to get to [loan] forgiveness.”

Council voted 3-2 to defer reopening the Lifeline Loan Program to a later date. Mayor Bailey and Councilmember Donovan voted ‘No,’ both preferring to allocate the remaining funds immediately.

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