Southern California Tribe Gives $1 Million to Hard Hit Small Businesses

San Manuel Business Committee

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians surprised 50 small businesses with $20,000 each in a virtual live stream event. In collaboration with the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP) the Southern California tribe announced the San Manuel Cares $1 Million Small Business Relief Fund. The Tribe was inspired to support small businesses based in their ancestral territory that have been devastated by the impact of COVID-19.

The selected businesses represent industries hardest hit by the pandemic, such as restaurants, personal care services, and others deemed “non-essential”, yet so critical to the region’s economic recovery. The 50 business owners were invited to a virtual event where San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairman Ken Ramirez made the surprise announcement that each of them would receive a $20,000 grant.

During the event, Chairman Ramirez said, “We all look forward to the day when you can fully reopen your doors for good and welcome your customers back. Until then, you have a hand up from San Manuel to cover expenses and keep your employees on the payroll.” 

Qualifying businesses were selected in part because of their commitment to their communities on the Tribe’s ancestral lands, spanning the San Bernardino valley, up the San Bernardino Mountains and outward to the High Desert. The financial grants will provide the business owners assistance in paycheck protection to fund their current workforce, and cash flow assistance to cover operational expenses, debt relief and business improvements.

“Our San Manuel Cares team contacted each of these 50 businesses to learn more about their hardships and find the best way to provide assistance,” said Ramirez. “I hope that what we do here today prompts others to do the same; support your local small businesses, give as much as you can, and do your part to keep our communities and economy thriving.”

Paul Granillo, president and CEO of IEEP, set the stage for the announcement by sharing the devastating effects the pandemic has had on the Inland Empire economy, noting that that almost 50% of the small businesses in the IE reported a large negative effect from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Confetti cannons popped as San Manuel Chairman Ramirez presented a $20,000 bill to three selected representatives of the fund recipients: Jovi’s Diner, Mi Cocina, and Viva La Boba. The three owners joined the socially distanced event and cheered with the others that participated via Zoom or tuned in with family, friends and customers via livestream.