GEDA will work with San Nicolas on new fed funding; $1.8M rental assistance ‘imminent’

GEDA administrator Melanie Mendiola (PNC file photo)

The Guam Economic Development Authority is very excited about the $85 million federal funding for Guam.

According to GEDA director Melanie Mendiola, the funding has been reported out of the Financial Services Committee but not yet passed.

“We are currently working with Congressman Michael San Nicolas’ office in providing information on loans issued by GEDA in the past and how we may be able to utilize all or the majority of this money in the future,” Mendiola said during Thursday’s board meeting.

“This is the money we use for our loan guarantee program through several of our local banks,” she added.

The $85 million is deposited into GEDA’s bank account and then GEDA uses this to guarantee funds to guarantee for loans. GEDA can offer lines of credit or term loans for small businesses.

There may be some conditions such as GEDA will have to utilize the money within two or three years. Otherwise, it’ll be assigned to another jurisdiction.

“We’re going to need to meet with the congressman’s office to really decide, try to figure out what the volume is, that would be most realistic,” Mendiola said.

She added that there’s also some flexibility in that the funds don’t have to be used just to guarantee loans, they can be used for direct loans as well.

“So we just have to look at the real rules and regs concerning this money. But its additional capital flowing into Guam,” Mendiola said.

During the board meeting, Mendiola also announced that GEDA is set to receive $1.8 million for the Pandemic Rental Relief Grant for Small Businesses.

This is the pending request GEDA has been working on with the Office of the Governor. The governor originally authorized $3 million, which GEDA used to provide rent relief to 400 businesses, but had approximately 250 small businesses in need of funding.

“We have been working closely with the Office of the Governor to identify the funding, but are not aware if it will be coming from the current CARES Act balance, or the next round, or any other source. We do know that she is committed to working with us to identify the funds,” Mendiola said.

She added: “It is very imminent. It looks like we’ll be receiving the money very soon, so we can distribute the funds to those that are waiting.”

Mendiola said GEDA also welcomes the $661 million for Guam included in the House COVID relief package for state and local fiscal recovery funding.

The funding, announced by Congressman Michael San Nicolas, recently passed the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and seeks to help communities across the country battle COVID-19.

“We are excited for the next round of CARES Act monies to make its way to Guam because we know it will be good for Guam. We are hopeful that some of the monies will be used to benefit small businesses, but continue to recognize the pressing needs of our island in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic so at this time cannot comment on whether any of it will be used for small business grants similar to the ones we distributed in the first round,” Mendiola said.