Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant on University Avenue is one of the City Heights businesses that received assistance. Image from Google Maps

Well, bursts of good news continue to trickle in from the ongoing struggle against COVIDd-19. Thirty-five small businesses in the City Heights neighborhood have received various amounts in pandemic-related grants to help them stay afloat.

The money was drawn from a $230,000 relief fund raised in June by the City Heights Economic Development Collaborative. That total included a $50,000 contribution from U.S. Bank Foundation, plus cash support from JP Morgan Chase, Price PhilanthropiesSDG&E, Union Bank and The Hervey Family Fund at The San Diego Foundation. The effort was organized to help small businesses survive the craziness of the Pandemic.

Of the businesses that got help, 22 are women owned and 30 are minority owned. Twenty-four of the 35 have been around for at least 10 years. The group emphasized that the grants should help preserve more than 100 jobs. The collaborative has published a map showing the location of businesses receiving help so customers can seek them out. Meanwhile, the group continues to raise money for the fund and asks those who want to contribute to the cause visit LISC San Diego.

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Meanwhile, North Island Credit Union checks in to report that it has loaned 342 small businesses in San Diego $40-plus million under the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. North Island says the loans will help save or restore 3,420 jobs in the region that were threatened due to the COVID-19 crisis. The credit union says it has received a 100% approval rate for those businesses applying. Most average between 10 and 12 employees. “Small local businesses are the backbone of our San Diego economy, and the SBA program has been an absolute lifeline to help these businesses survive the pandemic,” said president and CEO Steve O’Connell in a prepared statement. North Island Credit Union is a division of California Credit Union.

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San Diego ranks No. 18 out of 100 in the nation when it comes to the quality of its city park system, according to a list compiled by the Trust for Public Land. Minneapolis’ park system is No. 1, according to the Trust’s 2020 ParkScore index. In terms of nonprofit percentage of funding for public parks, San Diego ranks even lower, at No. 20. The trust found that in the past year, San Diego park nonprofits handed out about $5 million on improvements and maintenance. But when added to spending by the city, the monies represent a meager 3% of total spending for parks and related facilities. Connie Matsui, chair of the Board of Trustees for the Balboa Park Conservancy, says the announcement of the latest index underscores the importance of Balboa Park, the crown jewel of San Diego’s 520-park system to the region, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as increasing numbers of people make use of the recreation areas.

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The Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors is sponsoring an online election forum 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on July 31 that will feature mayoral candidates Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria. The forum is open to members of the regional real estate community. A spokesperson for the PSAR’s Government Affairs Committee said the two are expected to discuss their views on real estate and homeownership issues. Questions can be submitted in advance to george@psar.org.

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Regional cable television and internet service provider Cox Communications has announced two months of free Internet service to new qualifying families in time for the fall semester through their long-standing Connect2Compete program. The Cox Connect2Compete program is available to families who have at least one child that is a K-12 student at home and who participate in one of a number of programs for families in need. Families can sign up at Connect2Compete.

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A reminder… The application process for Walmart’s seventh annual Open Call is open. The deadline is Aug. 10. Entrepreneurs who are accepted will meet with Walmart buyers on Oct. 1. The application and additional information about the event are available at Walmart-jump.com. The event kicks off Walmart’s recognition of U.S. Manufacturing Month.

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Good Time Design, the hospitality group behind some of San Diego’s favorite venues, including Moonshine Beach, Moonshine Flats and The Blind Burro, announces the grand opening of The Presley July 29 at Liberty Station. The Presley features 3,400 square feet of dine-in space, with 2,100 square feet of dedicated outdoor dining space and three bars.

Anthony and Courtney Marcotti outside The Camp Store.

And finally for a bit of North County News…The Camp Store, a fixture at the always-packed South Carlsbad State Park famous for its shaved ice treats, has officially re-opened under new lease holders Anthony and Courtney Marcotti. The two have revamped the 1,000-square-foot store serving the 223 ocean bluff campsites located just north of Ponto Beach. Anthony said he is looking forward to March when extensive landscaping will be completed along with the addition of a kitchen and outside seating area. “The city of Carlsbad has been amazingly helpful with approvals, which will really help revitalize the area,” he said. The previous operator had the lease for three decades. Anthony is a former 5th grade teacher and entrepreneur who spent many years running an adventure experience for surfers on a small island in Indonesia.

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to tom.york@gmail.com.

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