By Elizabeth Klinge

RANCHO CORDOVA (CBS13) — One local city is launching new efforts to help keep businesses from going bankrupt.

Heather Zak says her family’s Rancho Cordova restaurant has been hit hard financially by the pandemic.

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“It’s been super tough,” she said.

Zak would like to hire more employees and have more customers filling the seats and tables.

“People are still scared to come out so we definitely lose out on a lot of sales and we have this huge space here and we only fill half of it,” she said.

Now, Rancho Cordova is offering up more than a million dollars to help local businesses like hers bounce back from pandemic problems.

The city is taking applications for grants of up to $40,000 that can be used to help struggling small businesses stay afloat.

“The goal is to support our local businesses and non-profits organizations that are still experiencing economic hardships,” one city official said.

“We think it’s amazing what they do and what they’re trying to do for the community,” Zak said.

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So what can these recovery grants be used for?

“Rent, payroll, retiring high-end debt. All of those are open for possibilities,” the city official said.

Funding comes from federal COVID-relief money and the city’s community enhancement fund, but not every business can apply.

“The city has set up really tough guidelines,” Parvinder Singh said.

Singh tried to sign up, but his gas and convenience store is not eligible for the money along with several other types of businesses including smoke shops, massage parlors, and home based businesses.

“That’s not very good because I figured out I’m not getting nothing,” Singh said.

But for those that do qualify, city leaders hope it helps owners keep their doors open for years to come.

“It’s really a tough time for them, so we’re trying to help where we can,” the city official said.

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Applications are being accepted online through January 23 and the city hopes to begin distributing the money by the end of February.

Elizabeth Klinge