This is the fifty-fourth COVID-19 update from San Jose Downtown Association, dating back to March 12. They are usually sent on Thursdays.
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State’s framework for the Red Tier and the County’s Risk Reduction Order.

Dear members:

It’s so good to see our museums and galleries open again.  Tomorrow, Friday, Mar. 12, the San Jose Museum of Art takes its next step.  In two weeks on Mar. 26, SJ Institute of Contemporary Arts will open by reservation.  Children’s Discovery Museum is taking reservations for the Bill’s Backyard outdoor space.  The Tech Interactive will invite visitors back inside later in the spring.  We’re making progress.

For a few weeks, we’ve been listing some great opportunities to obtain some government relief funding.  If you have not received a grant previously -- especially arts groups -- be sure to take a look at the financial section below.  We have also included resources to guide you in the process, but don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions and we will find a way to get you connected to someone that can help.

We hope you and your business are improving.

Webinar Today (March 11) |  3:30pm

Shuttered Venues Grant Program
Hosted by City of San Jose | Free

Businesses impacted by venue closures, such as theaters, concert venues, museums, and talent representatives can apply for grants from the Small Business Administration as part of the federal COVID relief legislation passed in December 2020. The $15 billion Shuttered Venue Grant program is designed to support businesses that suffered revenue losses caused by the COVID-19 restrictions on venues.

A representative from SBA will provide information on eligibility, priorities, restrictions and how to apply. If your performing arts business lost 90% or more of your revenues between April and December 2020, your application will be reviewed in the first 14 days of the grant awards, so early application is important!

More information on the grant program: Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Frequently Asked Questions

Downtown Promotion
St. Patricks’ Day promotion
Starting Friday through March 17,  SJDA and the City are hosting a St. Patrick’s themed photo contest, green lighted features and a leprechaun search through the downtown landscape.

Palm trees, buildings and pathways downtown will be lit in green, the San Jose logo arch will be installed in San Pedro Square, and dozens of leprechauns will be hosted at businesses throughout downtown.

Everyone will be encouraged to take a photo at the arch or snap a selfie with one of the leprechauns and share with us on FacebookInstagram or Twitter to be entered to win gift cards to downtown businesses and tickets to Cinequest’s Cinejoy virtual Film Festival March 20-30.  A photographer will be at the arch from 5-9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Wednesday.  Green-themed masks will be handed out for free on March 17.

There are lots of ways for your business to participate in the fun, and get increased visibility through the SJDA website and social media:

  • Restaurants and coffee shops can offer a “green” food or drink special. Clothing and other creative retailers can also offer a special.  Email details on your special to and we’ll add your business to our webpage
  • Add to the festive atmosphere by turning your business green with window displays or green lighting. Snap a photo and tag SJDA on Facebook and Instagram.

These buildings and areas are currently scheduled to be lit in green:

  • Security and Leticia Buildings at 70 S. First St.
  • Twohy Building at 210 S. First St.
  • The Pavilion at 150 S. First St.
  • Circle of Palms on Market Street
  • Post Street between Market and First streets
  • San Pedro Square
  • St. Patrick’s Day projections on the Fairmont Annex
  • Bamboo Panda Mural on South First Street in Historic District
COVID updates
County reminder to be safe
The County Health Officer urges everyone to remember that indoor activities are much higher risk than outdoor activities and to take every step to reduce your risk as much as possible. To keep yourself, your family, your friends and neighbors, and our broader community safe, continue to stay masked, maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others, avoid crowds, wash those hands and get vaccinated when it is your turn.

Businesses must have an updated Social Distancing Protocol on file and displayed, as well as posted and enforced capacity limits.  For specific categories of business and social distancing protocols, visit the Santa Clara County COVID-19 guidance pages.

Participate in the Small Business School Challenge
Call for invitations to apply to participate in the third Small Business School Challenge, a national virtual business innovation and consulting event pairing real small business owners with teams of MBA students to create new strategies to succeed, open now through March 25.

Ideal applicants are small business owners in any industry with 3-30 employees who could benefit from strategy and support to improve their current business and overcome the challenges they’re facing.

The SBSC-III takes place during 48 hours from April 8-10, and more than 400 MBAs from 10+ top business schools, including UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business, have already volunteered to support their local communities.

The event is free for small businesses to participate thanks to donors, sponsors, and official corporate partners. Small businesses in CA are encouraged to apply to participate here and nominate fellow small business owners in their community to benefit from the support as well here. More information is available here.

COVID Financial Update

Three more funding rounds for State of CA small business assistance in March
New funding rounds 4 and 5 of State of California relief grants for California Small Businesses can be found here

  • Round 4 is March 16-23 for nonprofit cultural institutions only that did not receive funding in Rounds 1, 2 or 3.  More info below.
  • Round 5 is March 25-31 for eligible businesses and non-profits not selected in Rounds 1, 2 or 3 and new applicants that meet eligibility criteria.
Eligible grant awards range from $5,000-$25,000, depending on business revenues.  Under $100,000 revenue are eligible for a $5,000 grant.  Under $1 million revenue are eligible for a $15,000 grant.  $1 million to $2.5 million revenue are eligible for a $25,000 grant.

Eligibility guidelines and application instructions are all found on the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant web page.

Round 6 has not yet been scheduled, but will serve those businesses that have applied, met requirements and were waitlisted.

Basic facts for CA Relief Grants for cultural organizations, from Californians for the Arts
Application open March 16-23, 2021

Grant sizes $5,000 (less than $100,000 revenue; $15,000 $100,000-$1 million; $25,000 $1 million+ (no cap on revenue unlike the other small business relief grants)

Eligibility: Grants to eligible nonprofit cultural institutions shall be prioritized on documented percentage revenue declines based on a reporting period comparing Q2 and Q3 of 2020 versus Q2 and Q3 of 2019

Note: If you have applied for a CA Relief Grant already and received a grant in rounds, 1, 2 or 3. you are not eligible. If you applied but did not receive a grant, you must complete the new application starting March 16.

Application Info: Once you go to you will be asked to choose a partner.

Webinar to Learn More: March 15 at 2pm. Register here.

Definition of “Cultural Institutions” as defined in SB 87:

For purposes of this subdivision, “eligible nonprofit cultural institution” means a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity that satisfies the criteria for a qualified small business pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 12100.82, but with no limitation on annual gross revenue, and that is in one of the following North American Industry Classification System codes:

(A) 453920 - Art Dealers.
(B) 711110 - Theater Companies and Dinner Theaters.
(C) 711120 - Dance Companies.
(D) 711130 - Musical Groups and Artists.
(E) 711190 - Other Performing Arts Companies.
(F) 711310 - Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events with Facilities.
(G) 711320 - Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events without Facilities.
(H) 711410 - Agents and Managers for Artists, Athletes, Entertainers, and Other Public Figures.
(I) 711510 - Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers.
(J) 712110 - Museums.
(K) 712120 - Historical Sites.
(L) 712130 - Zoos and Botanical Gardens.
(M) 712190 - Nature Parks & Other Similar Institutions.

Federal Paycheck Protection Program
The deadline to get approved for the second round of federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding is March 31. Distribution is on a First-come, first-serve basis.

The PPP 2.0 includes two avenues for accessing funds: First Draw Loans and Second Draw Loans:

First Draw Loans

  • Open to organizations that did not receive a PPP loan in 2020, or that did not receive forgiveness by 12/27/20 for a 2020 PPP loan, and either returned or did not accept a portion of that loan
  • Small businesses and nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees are eligible
  • Also: tribes, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors

Second Draw Loans

  • For organizations that received a PPP loan in 2020 and
    • have used or will use the full loan amount for authorized expenses
    • have 300 or fewer employees
    • can show a 25% or more decrease in gross revenue between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020
  • For most borrowers, the maximum Second Draw loan amount is 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs for either 2019 or 2020.

Both types of loans are forgivable if, within the 8- to 24-week period after the loan is received, the organization:

  • maintains employee and compensation levels
  • spends the funds on payroll (at least 60% of total) and other eligible expenses

Funds from both loan types can be spent on:

  • payroll costs, including benefits
  • mortgage interest, rent, utilities
  • worker protection costs related to COVID-19
  • certain other operations expenses

The new PPP 2.0 includes special set-aside funds (First Draw more than $15 billion; Second Draw, more than $25 billion) for borrowers with 10 or fewer employees

Need help? Get assistance from your local SBA office (search here). More instructional PPP info here (video) and here (doc).

Mayor releases March budget message for FY 2021-22
Mayor Sam Liccardo offered multiple initiatives to be included in the city’s budget for next fiscal year, starting July 1.  In a section called “Jobs Moving San Jose Into a Brighter Future.” Here are highlights from that section:
  • Small Business Resilience: The pandemic has devastated our small businesses—and they will continue to need our help well beyond existing City and state grant programs.
  • San Jose Al Fresco: San Jose Al Fresco’s relaxed rules for outdoor dining and commerce––which have helped many small businesses tread water throughout this pandemic––will expire June 30, 2021. The City Manager was directed to use federal relief funds if permitted to extend this program through 2021-2022, with priority given to businesses serving our most severely impacted neighborhoods. 
  • Storefront Activation Program: The Storefront Activation Grant Program eliminates barriers for small businesses seeking to transform empty spaces into vibrant shops and restaurants. The City Manager is directed to continue the program by allocating one-time federal relief funding for this program–if allowed––to offset permitting costs, and to reduce the cost to install Al Fresco infrastructure.
  • San Jose Small Business and Manufacturing Recovery Initiative: The Office of Economic Development (OED) staff has worked to secure a $1.17 million federal grant to work with designated community organizations to provide technical assistance and support for San Jose manufacturers and small businesses.The Mayor’s complete budget message can be reviewed here.
Business Tip

Taking steps toward a more friendly dog downtown
With the opening of the new SoFA Pocket Park dog park Feb. 18, we’re becoming even more of a dog-oriented city center.  As customers walk around with their pets, businesses have an opportunity to support these clients by supplying doggie treats, water bowls and other pet-friendly amenities. If this is a strategy you are thinking about for your business or are already doing, let us know so we can promote your pet-friendly actions.  Need some ideas? Our friends at downtown pet store and adoption center Andy’s Pet Shop can help you think about how and what to serve this new audience.

Also, here’s a blog about the importance of public spaces (like dog parks) during a pandemic.

SJDA in the News

Recent media reports involving Downtown San Jose with commentary or behind-the-scenes input by San Jose Downtown Association.  

More coronavirus-related news

Consumer spending shows improvement in services category, which includes dining out
The Conference Board this week reported how U.S. Consumer Spending has changed during COVID.  A spending milestone was achieved in January when consumer spending equaled the same level seen a year ago -- prompted by improving labor markets, another round of government consumer support and vaccine distribution.

Prior to the pandemic, 69 percent of consumer spending was on services like travel, entertainment and dining out.  In January services spending was down 5.9 percent from a year ago.

Spending on durable goods such as barbecues and TVs were up 18.6 percent in January, and non-durable goods like groceries and clothing are up 6 percent vs. a year ago.

As the tiers change colors and the threat of the virus dissipates, the Conference Board suggests another large shift, with more people feeling more comfortable about taking vacations and going out for dinner.

*Consumer spending as measured by the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Personal Consumption Expenditure data.

Taking a break from and during Zoom
A few weeks ago, we offered a brief about how to protect your mind and body and the importance of staying connected with friends, family and colleagues.

Today, we’re sharing part of an article that appeared this week in the SF Chronicle that dives a little deeper.  Zoom, a San Jose-based company, has proven to be an essential tool for keeping businesses, education and personal connections moving forward during the pandemic.  The article does observe that people may feel fatigued or exhausted after a day of Zoom meetings.

Four causes of fatigue: “excessive eye gaze, seeing yourself reflected back to you for many hours a day, being tethered to one physical location for extended periods of time, and increased difficulty in interpreting nonverbal cues,” writes reporter Kellie Hwang.

Some of the following tips may help you retain energy for the rest of your day:

  • Give yourself a break with audio-only, especially when meetings don’t have presentations;
  • Minimize the Zoom screen to about one-third of the screen.
  • Add some distance between you and camera so that you may have more freedom to move around.
  • If it’s a professional meeting, it’s OK to feel like you have to look away to take notes.
  • Stretch
  • Close your eyes for a minute while listening to others (but don’t fall asleep!)
When can we go orange?
From the SF Chronicle:  “Tier assignments are determined by the state based on a county’s daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 population, adjusted for the amount of testing it performs, as well as its positive test rate. To move to a less restrictive tier, a county must have been in its current tier for a minimum of three weeks, and must meet the criteria for the next-least-restrictive tier for two consecutive weeks. To move from red to orange, a county needs to report an adjusted case rate between 1 and 3.9, and a positive test rate between 2% and 4.9%.”
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