Keeping businesses afloat was a huge challenge for cities and counties across the country once the pandemic hit in 2020. While Federal assistance was made available, determining how to help, who to help, and how much to help, was not always easy to assess.
After two years of crisis management, we now have ample experiences to look back on to see what worked, what didn’t, and what we might learn to prepare for any future crisis.
In our recently published Hero profile, our client, the City of La Quinta, gave us an inside look at their last two years and the lessons they learned. Here are a few excerpts that might entice you to read their full story…
The majority of La Quinta’s economy depended upon tourism, which all but dried up in the early months of the pandemic.
Between April 2020 and December 2021, the City administered seven rounds of relief, awarding more than 260 grants and processing over fifty loans. They provided $1.8 million in funding to support the community.
They recognized from the very beginning that they would need a technology platform to manage their relief programs. The City Manager’s Office is made up of a small team and they were able to process more than 3,000 applications – something they could not have managed with Excel and a folder system.
Initially launching a loan program, they quickly pivoted to grants because they did not have to be paid back and provided enough financial support to keep businesses afloat.
They were flexible in their program structure so that they could adjust what the grants covered as the economic challenges evolved throughout the pandemic.
After the relief phase of the program, they wanted to enable businesses to withstand another Covid wave or another crisis. So, they began to offer grants to help them adjust their business model or alter a physical structure, such as adding a drive-up window, to be more future-proofed.
In November 2021, Mayor Linda Evans reported businesses thriving at close to pre-pandemic levels and attributes that to their relief programs.
We also discovered that they learned many lessons that will long outlive the pandemic. Watch their Hero Story and read the case study to find out more.