State officials offer COVID-19 resources for business community

From left, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, State Treasurer Fiona Ma and Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, took part in the SCV Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Sacramento Update on Friday, July 17, 2020. Courtesy photo
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The Santa Clarita Valley business community had a chance Friday to hear from top state elected officials regarding Sacramento’s response to the COVID-19 crisis that directly affects the workforce. 

The SCV Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual roundtable with Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, and Isabel Guzman, director of the Office of the Small Business Advocate. 

Having trouble accessing unemployment benefits? 

An estimated 6.7 million people, who were working in the winter, remain unemployed across California and are “trying to survive” the pandemic, said Kounalakis. 

But many who have sought unemployment benefits through the state’s Employment Development Department have experienced busy lines, dropped calls and delays in receiving funds due to outstanding requests. 

If you’re experiencing difficulty accessing benefits through EDD, Smith said residents should call her office at 661-286-1565. 

“Thanks to pressure from myself and colleagues, they (EDD) have now started to try to help us streamline those processes,” she said. “I want to remind everyone if you find yourself in that situation, we can help you, we can help your employees. That’s what we’re here for.” 

Relief for commercial retail property owners

While Gov. Gavin Newsom and local governments, including in Santa Clarita, have issued rent moratoriums, help is also underway for small business owners through a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program loan, said Ma. 

“We are in contact with our bank. The bankers don’t want to take their property back; they learned from 2008,” she said. “They want to make sure that they are doing everything they can to keep property owners whole.” 

Ma recommends you contact your bank, let them know your situation and work on extending payments. If you face issues with your bank, she suggests emailing her at [email protected]. “We would like to know which banks are not working collaboratively with their customers during this time,” she said. 

Other resources

Whether you are an employer or employee with questions about unemployment, reopening guidelines, or loans available, panelists suggest visiting: 

  • California’s official website for COVID-19 response at covid19.ca.gov
  • The State Treasurer’s Office for COVID-19-related resources at treasurer.ca.gov
  • EDD for unemployment benefits at edd.ca.gov

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