CalChamber Applauds Governor’s Proposed Grants for Small Businesses

Today, as part of his budget announcement, Governor Gavin Newsom proposed adding much-needed financial relief for California employers in the form of tax credits/tax relief, loans, and most importantly, grants.  CalChamber supports this effort and applauds the Governor’s actions to provide relief for California’s beleaguered small businesses who are struggling as a result of the ongoing shutdowns.

CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg responded to today’s announcement, “Any and all efforts to provide relief for small businesses, alleviate regulatory burdens and eliminate costs for them as they struggle through this pandemic should continue to be the priority of the Governor and policy makers.  The Legislature must act quickly on these proposals.   We also appreciate the Governor’s efforts to financially support California employers who invest in the State and provide jobs for our working families.”

There are three grant programs included in the proposed budget:  (1) emergency COVID-19 Relief Grant Program; (2) California Compete grant program; and (3) the California Dream Fund.  Employers can apply for grants now under the COVID-19 Relief Program.  The other two grant programs must be approved by the Legislature.  The Legislature returns on Monday, January 11th.

The emergency COVID-19 Relief Grant Program was created in November 2020 and is administered by the California Office of the Small Business Advocate within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-BIZ).  Currently the program has $500 million in funds, ready to allocate to eligible businesses.  The Governor’s budget requests the Legislature to approve another $550 million for this program.  Eligible businesses will be able to receive a grant up to $25,000, depending on their annual gross revenue.  The grant money can be used for a list of items, including employee expenses and costs related to compliance with health and safety regulations related to COVID-19, such as PPE and testing.

The California Compete grant program seeks to provide financial support to those employers who are making a significant investment in the State by satisfying one of the following criteria: (1) make a significant infrastructure investment in the State; (2) creating jobs in the State (at least 500 net new jobs); (3) commit to a high-need, high-opportunity area in the State; or (4) the employer receives a designation as a “strategic priority” of the State, presumably meaning California is competing to keep the employer here rather than the employer relocating to another state.  This program is proposed to be administered by GO-Biz and applications will go through the same approval process as the existing California Competes tax credit.  The Governor is requesting the Legislature to take immediate action on this proposal and approve the program as well as appropriate $250 million for the grants.

The California Dream Fund is a proposed grant program to assist small business creation in underserved populations that are facing “opportunity gaps,” such as women-owned business, people of color, and immigrants.  Under this proposal, eligible small business owners could receive up to $10,000 to “seed entrepreneurship and small business creation.”  The Budget proposes for this grant program to be administered by small business technical assistance centers, to help with training and advising these entrepreneurs in their start-ups in order to ensure more success.  The Governor is also requesting the Legislature to take immediate action on this proposal and appropriate $35 million for the grants.

Small businesses should visit for additional information as well as CalChamber’s COVID-19 page at


The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) is the largest broad-based business advocate to government in California.  Membership represents one-quarter of the private sector jobs in California and includes firms of all sizes and companies from every industry within the state.  Leveraging our front-line knowledge of laws and regulations, we provide products and services to help businesses comply with both federal and state law.  CalChamber, a not-for-profit organization with roots dating to 1890, promotes international trade and investment in order to stimulate California’s economy and create jobs.  Please visit our website at