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COVID-19 related closures have left many business ventures struggling to stay afloat.
photo credit: (Credit Dangaken)
Though decisions won't be final before December, elected officials are moving forward with a strategy to ensure people, businesses and groups often overlooked get a fair share of $96 million in federal funds Sonoma County has or will receive.
While the bulk of the money will reimburse county agencies for COVID-related spending, some is being reserved for direct aid to locals and their businesses. 
"Technical assistance will also be provided to community based organizations and businesses simply to apply for funds, and we will have a special targeted focus on small and grassroots organizations who historically have not applied for county funds," said Oscar Chavez with the county's Human Services Department.
Using a framework being developed by a county initiative called Upstream Investments, officials hope to assure the underrepresented aren't overlooked. Staffers will conduct vigorous outreach to such communities.
Sheba Person-Whitley, executive director of Sonoma County Economic Development Board, said earlier efforts made the agency aware of hurdles between those deserving of funds, and decision-makers; and strategies to bridge them.
"We really were intentional about prioritizing low to moderate income, really looking at socio-economics as well as being very intentional about supporting Black, indigenous and people of color because we know that, the data has shown us, that historically, they really have struggled with access to capital and other barriers to entry," she said.
Draft recommendations are expected September 14th with final decisions scheduled for December.
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