Small Business Matters: Up to $10,000 in aid available for businesses in Hawaii County: APPLY NOW!

Another source of funding for small businesses is available in Hawaii County and, as of its first three days in operation (Sept. 3 to 7), has sent out close to $1 million and is processing applications at a rate of about 100/work day at a 95% application approval rate.

The county has allocated $22 million for small business funding out of the $80 million it received from a federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act award and currently has a little more than half of that $80 million in hand from the state with the remainder to be released when the first portion has been expended.


While the aggregate pot of money is large, the need is also great, and awards will vary up to a cap of $10,000/business. This amount will not be a game-changer for many larger businesses, but it may well tip the scales towards survival for smaller businesses struggling to stay afloat. In either case, no-strings-attached cash is welcome for any business in these or any other times, so by all means, if your business qualifies for this funding, apply for it. And do it soon, as there is a time limit on the dispersal of these funds, and any nondistributed funds as of December will have to be returned to the federal government, something nobody wants. To add to the urgency, “the Governor has reached out to the County with an exploratory offer of additional funding beyond the $80 million,” according to Diane Ley, Director of County R &D, but this must also be dispersed to end users by the end of the year as well, so especially should these extra funds materialize, “time is closing in rapidly.”

Qualifying small businesses are those with 50 or fewer employees, forprofit or nonprofit, including sole proprietors. A business must either be registered with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, or if a sole proprietor not so registered must document this with a 2019 IRS Schedule C or F. It must also have been in existence before March 23, be located on Hawaii Island, employ Island residents, and provide services to Hawaii Island communities.

This small business funding portion of the County CARE relief program is named Holomua (meaning go forward or progress) Hawaii. Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union (HCFCU) received the contract to act as the intermediary to administer the distribution of these funds, and the program opened for applications on Sept. 3. Clicking on “Holomua Hawaii Business and Non-Profit Grants” at will give you the details, list the required documentation you need to apply, and provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

HCFCU is collaborating with five other credit unions: CU Hawaii, HFS, Hawaii County Employees, Big Island, and HawaiiUSA, and applications will be assigned to each according to a business’s GET number, which seems as logical a way as any to divvy up the workload. Application to Holomua Hawaii can be made at The application is very simple and other than providing the documentation required, all you are asked is to describe what services you provide, how your business was adversely affected by COVID, and how much you are requesting in reimbursement. Please have the required documents at hand, in digital format, to attach to your application. Missing documents can disqualify you from receiving assistance, or at best, greatly delay the timeliness of your grant and increase your hassle factor. According to Ley, “applications are being processed as they come in and credit unions have committed to a 3 working day approve/deny decision with checks to follow within the week.”

Keep in mind that this is a reimbursement program and businesses will be reimbursed for expenses incurred due to business interruption for the April-September period. Eligible for reimbursement are items such as rent, insurance, payroll, utilities, and COVID protection expenses. There is a worksheet on the site that will help you list these, and you must have documentation that these expenses were paid.

The last caveat is that you cannot already have received funding in the form of a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) to pay for the expenses you are requesting; you can’t “double-dip”. If what you received from either of those programs wasn’t enough to cover expenses you can certainly make claim for any shortfalls through Holomua Hawaii however.

“The County is pleased to work with our Hawaii Island credit unions … to provide this critical safety net for our businesses and non-profits during these most trying financial times,” Ley says. “Our business community, through no fault of its own, is really struggling to make ends meet and stay afloat. The true caring and leadership of our credit unions for our local businesses cannot be understated.”


Thank you County, thank you Credit Unions. Businesses, please apply!

Hawaii SBDC Network is funded in part through Cooperative Agreement No # SBAHQ-13-B-0048/0001 with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the University of Hawaii at Hilo. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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