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Palm Desert businesses hopeful in the city’s emergency loan program

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 The city council authorized a repurposing of city funds to create the Unite Palm Desert Emergency Business Relief loan program. The move makes an additional $500,000 available to its local businesses affected by recent COVID-related closures.

"We just hustle every day." said Greg Rangel. "Every day is a struggle, we look forward to tomorrow and we work for it today."

The Gastro Grind Burgers joint in Palm Desert is one of hundreds of valley restaurants trying to hang on.

"Initially when we had to do the shutdown, we had 12 full-time employees," said Rangel. "Now we're down to three full-time employees and then sometimes, obviously we as owners go in and help where we can."

Greg Rangel, a restaurant owner, has had to cut over 70 percent of his staff due to the pandemic.

And with this latest shutdown, it's been hard to keep employees on payroll.

"Sometimes they call us, they want to work, but if there's no work, there's no work," said Rangel. "We're just trying to get the sales up."

Stories like this one have the city of Palm Desert launching a new $500,000 program to help local businesses affected by the shutdown.

"It is difficult and the fact that it's already nine months, I mean, we made it this far,"said Rangel. "We can hope we can keep going."

Businesses who apply to the  program could receive a $5,000 forgivable loan.

"It's a wonderful Christmas present, but it's not gonna be for very much if we're not operating," said Fabienne Fuentes.

Fabienne Fuentes, owner of the French Rotisserie Café, is happy to hear the city wants to help but says it wont be enough to cover her bills in the long run.

"I think it would be great for a week, but for a year or six months or three months, um, the needs are just, you know, so sort of deep and so large," said Fuentes.

In a special county meeting, members also decided that the city would not take additional action to enforce the stay at home orders.

"It's too unevenly," said Fuentes. "There's no consistency in the way things are done. It's very hard for business to try and maneuver when you're not sure where the rules are."

The city council authorized a repurposing of city funds to create the Unite Palm Desert Emergency Business Relief loan program. The move makes an additional $500,000 available to its local businesses affected by recent COVID-related closures.

According to the city, businesses on that list include restaurants (no outdoor dining), personal care services (hair and nail salons), car washes, animal grooming facilities, body piercing shops, massage therapy, electrologists, estheticians, skincare, and tattoo shops.

Businesses may apply for the loan program starting December 24, 2020 at 8 a.m. at www.cityofpalmdesert.org/Emergency-Business-Relief

Loan applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis until loan funds are depleted.

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Dani Romero

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