Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility FAQs

How do I know if my business is eligible for funding?

Before applying, everyone must go through an eligibility screening process, which will determine whether or not their business is eligible to apply. If your organization is deemed eligible, then you will be automatically directed to the application. Review the eligibility screening and application process on Sierra Business Council's Small Business Grant Application Portal

If you are deemed eligible, you will be automatically directed to the application. If you are deemed ineligible, you will not be able to proceed to the application. After reviewing the eligibility criteria below, please call Sierra Business Council at 530-582-5022 if you believe there has been a mistake in your eligibility process so that we can correct it. 

Eligibility Requirements for Businesses

“Qualified microbusiness” means an entity that meets and self-certifies, under penalty of perjury, all of the following criteria:

  • Physical address within Nevada County 
  • Prior to December 31, 2019, the microbusiness began its operation and was legally operating since that time, including being registered with the California Secretary of State, if required.
  • The microbusiness is currently active and operating, or has a clear plan to reopen when the state permits reopening of the business.
  • The microbusiness was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as evidenced by at least a 10% reduction in revenue from the 2019 to 2020 taxable years, and/or a signed attestation and narrative describing significant impact from COVID-19.
  • The microbusiness had less than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) in revenues in the 2019 taxable year. 
  • The microbusiness currently has fewer than five full-time equivalent employees and had fewer than five full-time equivalent employees in the 2019 and 2020 taxable years.
  • The microbusiness is not a business excluded from participation in the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, as specified in paragraph (2) of subdivision (f) of Government Code Section 12100.82.

“Qualified microbusiness owner” means an individual that meets and self-certifies, under penalty of perjury, all of the following criteria:

  • The microbusiness owner is the majority-owner and manager of the qualified microbusiness.
  • The microbusiness owner’s primary means of income in the 2019 taxable year was the qualified microbusiness.
  • The microbusiness owner did not receive a grant under the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program.
  • The microbusiness owner can demonstrate their eligibility as a “qualified microbusiness owner” by providing the fiscal agent with a government issued photo identification (state, domestic, or foreign), and documentation that includes the owner’s name and may include, but is not limited to, the following:
    1. A local business permit or license or
    2. A bank statement or
    3. A tax return or
    4. Additional documentation to verify a microbusiness is a “qualified microbusiness”, as deemed appropriate by the fiscal agent.

Can I apply if I received funds from the California Relief Grant program?

No, you may not apply if you received funds from the California Relief Grant Program. 

Can I apply if I received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or other relief program?

Yes, you can apply if you received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program or other pandemic-related grant or loan programs. 

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to apply?

No, you do not need to be a U.S. citizen to apply. 

How does eligibility screening work?

To access the application, you must first pass the eligibility screening, which will determine whether or not your business is eligible for funds. Go to the Sierra Business Council's Small Business Grant Application Portal to get started.

What is the reasoning behind the eligible business size?

The intent of the funding from Cal OSBA is to provide relief to the hardest to reach microbusinesses and entrepreneurs. The County will implement an outreach and marketing plan to identify and engage eligible microbusinesses that face systemic barriers to access capital, including but not limited to, businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, individuals without documentation, individuals with limited English proficiency, and business owners located in low-wealth and rural communities.

Application FAQs

How do I apply?

Go to the Sierra Business Council's Small Business Grant Application Portal to get started.

When does the application open?

Applications are now being accepted on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis as funds remain. You can save your in-progress application, so it does not need to be completed in one sitting. Please take your time to complete the application. Incomplete applications will NOT be accepted.

What’s the deadline to apply?

Applications are now being accepted on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis as funds remain.

Does the application save once I have started it?

Your application will AUTOMATICALLY save once you start it. You can leave the application or close the browser at any point, and the application will be automatically saved when you return.

You can also click the “SAVE APPLICATION” button at the bottom of the form to see a summary of your in-progress application.

Do I have to fill out the application online? Can I submit my application via mail or in person?

All applications must be filled out online. No physical applications will be accepted. Applications can be filled out with a mobile phone. If you need help accessing a computer with Internet access, please visit your local library for free access. 

How can I get help with my application?

If you need assistance, you can contact Sierra Business Council at 530-582-5022 or email info@sierrasbdc.com.

I own/operate more than one business or nonprofit organization. Am I allowed to submit an application for each business/nonprofit I own if they meet the qualifications?

No, you may only apply one time even if you own, co-own, or operate multiple businesses or nonprofits. Only one business will be eligible.

My business has multiple locations. How do I know if I qualify? 

Your application answers and financial information must pertain only to any locations in Nevada County. 

If my business is declined, may I reapply?

You may not reapply if your application is declined. Please make sure you complete the application accurately and completely. A decline will likely be for ineligibility or incomplete applications. Please see eligibility information above.

What documentation will I need to submit my application?

  1. Complete 2019 business tax return, OR a business license, OR a business checking bank statement, OR business financial statements from 2019
  2. IRS Form W-9 (available in English and en Español)
  3. ID verification, such as a photo/scan of a driver’s license, Real ID, or passport, or government-issued photo ID

Why do I need to fill out a W-9?

The County is required to report grant funding information to the United States Treasury at the end of the year, which is done using W-9 forms. Filling out a W-9 now will help us send out checks more quickly to successful applicants. No funds will be disbursed without a W-9 and applications will be deemed incomplete without the W-9.

Why are you asking for a business financial statement or tax return?

Your financial statements allow us to verify that your business is active in Nevada County, meets the eligibility requirements for revenue, practices sound financial management, and is financially viable.

How do I upload the required documents?

When you get to the upload part of the application, you can search your device for the document you need, and then upload it. 

Do I need to submit all the documents? What if I don’t have all the documents that I need to apply?

You must submit ALL the required documents. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

How can I prove my business was in operation prior on or prior to December 31, 2019?

You will need to attest that your business or nonprofit was in operation by clicking the box on the application. You must also submit your 2019 business documents listed above. 

What if I have multiple locations for a single business, which address should I use?

Please select what you might consider the “primary” business location. 

What if I accidentally made a mistake or entered incorrect information on my application? 

You can save and edit your application until you submit it. You do not need to complete it all in one sitting. Please take your time on your application and do not submit it until you are sure it is complete and correct.

What do I do if I need a W-9?

You can click to fill out a blank W-9 Form in English or in Spanish.

What is the definition of a woman-, veteran- or minority-owned business?

  • For woman-owned: Be at least 51% directly owned and controlled by one or more women.
  • For veteran-owned: Be at least 51% directly owned and controlled by one or more veterans.
  • For minority-owned: To be certified as a minority-owned business, your company must be at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a minimum of one owner whose racial or ethnic background is Asian Indian, Asian Pacific, Black, Native American or Hispanic, as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration 8A program for Disadvantaged Businesses (see 13 CFR §124.103). To read more, please click here.

Do applicants receive a confirmation that they submitted their application?

Yes, you will receive a confirmation email upon submission of your application.

Selection Process FAQs

Are funds allocated on a first-come, first-served basis for qualified applicants?

Yes, Round 2 applications are now being accepted on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis as funds remain.

How will applications be selected to receive funding?

The application process is first-come, first-served. Only completed, submitted, and eligible applications will be considered for funding. Applications are evaluated on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be approved based on the timestamp of submission until funding is depleted. 

Receiving Grant Funds FAQs

How will I be contacted or know if I will receive a grant?

You will be notified by email that your application has been submitted. Your application will then be evaluated for eligibility. If your application is eligible and there is funding available, you will receive an email notification to expect a grant check. Checks will be mailed biweekly. Be sure to check your email regularly, including your spam folders. Emails to applicants will come from the Grant Program administrator@grantinterface.com.

Will I be contacted if I do not receive a grant?

Yes, you will be notified by email whether or not you receive a grant.

If I am selected to receive a grant, how much money will I get?

Businesses may receive $2,500.

How will I receive funds?

A paper check will be sent to the mailing address on your application. 

Am I required to set up a new bank account specifically for these funds?

No.

Will there be more grants available in the future?

Round 2 of funding opened on April 11, 2022. Applications are now being accepted on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis as funds remain.

Is my small business taxed on this grant?

The Grant Program cannot provide tax advice to those who receive payments. The administrators recommend that claimants consult with personal tax advisors for any questions regarding tax liability for these payments. Any taxes associated with accepting or using the grant funds are the responsibility of the awardee.

Grant Funding Use FAQs

If my business receives a grant, what can I use the money for? What can’t I use the money for?

  • The purchase of new certified equipment including, but not limited to, a cart. 
  • Investment in working capital.
  • Application for, or renewal of, a local permit including, but not limited to, a permit to operate as a sidewalk vendor.
  • Payment of business debt accrued due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Costs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and related health and safety restrictions, or business interruptions or closures incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as defined in subdivision (l) of Section 12100.83.

What’s required of me if I receive a grant? Are there any strings attached?

If selected, you must use these funds for valid COVID-19 related expenses identified in your application. Funds may not be used for a different business or personal expenses. Funding is not transferable. 

Do I have to pay the money back, like a loan?

No. The funds you receive are a grant, not a loan, and do not need to be paid back.

Additional FAQs

My business is struggling, I need help. Where can I go?

You should contact the Sierra Small Business Development Center for free business counseling by sending an email to info@sierrasbdc.com.

If I have questions after reading this FAQ, what do I do?

Call Sierra Business Council, the grant administrator, at 530-582-5022, or email info@sierrasbdc.com