The Office of Economic and Workforce Development Activates the Small Business Disaster Relief Fund in Response to Fire on West Portal

San Francisco, CA—In response to a three-alarm fire on West Portal Avenue last night, Mayor Mark Farrell has directed the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) to activate the Small Business Disaster Relief Fund. The fund will allow the three business that were impacted to access up to 10K in funds for inventory replacement, equipment purchases, security deposits for a new lease, employee salaries, or other expenses to stabilize cash flow. It is designed to provide businesses with capital as they assess damages and compile resources to safely and effectively reopen. 

“In the wake of these unexpected events, it is crucial that our merchants receive the support and help necessary to recover and rebuild quickly,” said Mayor Mark Farrell. “Dealing with the trauma of a fire is difficult and we are here to support our small business owners and their employees. We want them to be back in business as soon as possible. Our city succeeds when our small businesses succeed.”

The immediate weeks after a disaster is critical for a business to determine whether it can resume operations in San Francisco.  While many businesses may receive insurance proceeds or have the ability to access a traditional or disaster loan, the delay in receiving these funds can take weeks or months. The Small Business Disaster Recovery Fund is part of a comprehensive assistance package from the city that includes resources and services aimed at helping small businesses and their employees recover as quickly as possible. Workforce services include: job search assistance, access to unemployment information, small business loans, and guidance concerning licenses and permits, and other small business and employee services.

The fund was created following a fire at 22nd and Mission in 2015 by the late Mayor Lee. It has provided financial assistance to 15 businesses citywide.

“Small businesses are the heart of our city and when they are impacted by fires or other terrible events, it hurts the people that work at our local businesses and the community,” said Todd Rufo, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.  “The Small Business Disaster Relief Fund will provide immediate capital to small businesses when they need it the most.”

OEWD staff was on site along West Portal to assess the damaged businesses and provide direct assistance to affected small businesses and impacted employees. Assistance from OEWD includes job placement services so that there is a minimal gap in employment. The team also provides support and consultation on unemployment insurance, health care, and job transition services such as job counseling, training opportunities, and job placement assistance.

More than 18 employees were impacted from the fire at three businesses. The three active businesses that suffered fire and/or water damage:

  • Papenhausen Hardware, located on 32 West Portal Avenue
  • The West Portal Daily, located at 36 West Portal Avenue
  • Sloane Square Beauty Salon, located on 40 West Portal Avenue

“The grant fund will help impacted merchants get back on their feet as they wait for their insurance companies to respond,” Deirdre Von Rock-Ricci, President of the West Portal Merchant Association. “As a merchant association, this fund will ensuewg our businesses and their employees have immediate access to resources that are important to the continuity of our community. We are grateful for this service.”

“The fund is valuable as it will help cover expenses in these difficult times,” said Matt Rogers, owner of Papenhausen Hardware.

Staff will continue to assist these businesses and coordinate response efforts with partners and city agencies.      

The Small Business Disaster Relief Fund is led by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development in partnership the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA). For more information on the fund, please visit: oewd.org/disaster-relief

About the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD)
The Office of Economic and Workforce Development's (OEWD) mission is simple – we support the ongoing economic vitality of San Francisco. Under the direction of Mayor Edwin M. Lee, OEWD provides city-wide leadership for workforce development, business attraction and retention, neighborhood commercial revitalization, international business and development planning. For more information, go to: www.oewd.org

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