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CORE Grant Program

In March 2021, the City of Sacramento received $1.8 million in grants from the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz) to help increase equity in the cannabis industry. Of these funds, $1.4 million will be allocated towards the CORE Grant Program.  Approximately 10% is allocated for direct technical assistance while another 10% is allocated towards the cost of administering the program.  

CORE GRANT APPLICATION

The CORE Grant Program application which opened on January 19th, has now closed.  A total of 50 valid applications were received, of which 14 businesses will be awarded grants funds of up to $125,000.  Awardees were selected on a first-come-first-served bases with complete and verified information provided on the application.  Grant awardees were notified of the award on January 20th with instructions on the next steps.  If you have any questions with regard to the award selection process including the order the grant applications were received, please submit a Public Record Request here.

Applications for the smaller grants (up to $5,000 each) will open soon.  CORE participants will be notified by email and will be posted here when more information becomes available. 

INFORMATION ON THE GRANT APPLICATION SUBMISSION PROCESS AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

The CORE Grant Program application opened on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 at noon and is now closed.  The application opened to those with leased or owned locations.  CORE members can request up to $125,000 for this grant cycle on a first-come-first-served basis.  Applications were open only for one CORE member per business.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

1. What is a zoning clearance?

Answer:  A zoning clearance is an email from the Planning Division stating that your proposed location is in a zone that allows the particular type of cannabis business that you wish to obtain a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for.  A zoning clearance is only required if you have not submitted a CUP application and therefore do not have a Z- or a P-number.

2. Is cost of living expenses, in particular a salary, an acceptable cost?

Answer: Up to 10% of the disbursed funds can be spent on payroll with adequate documentation from the business' payroll system. So for the first $50,000, no more than $5,000 can be spent on payroll. Once you have spent your first $50k and have shown documentation for all expenses, including payroll, you can get the remaining $75k and up to $7,500 can be spent on payroll.

3. How will the first come, first serve basis be validated? Will each applicant receive a time and date stamp? What happens if two people get the same time and date stamp? When will the results be provided?

Answer: The web submission form will show a chronological order of the submissions. While the system does not have the ability to display timestamps down to the second, the system has been tested by the City’s IT department to sufficiently demonstrate that applications will be displayed in the order in which they were submitted. Our hope is that we can review applications for completeness and provide results within a few days.

4. The equity LOAN program requires receipts/validation of 70 percent of the funds disbursed. Does this requirement also apply to the equity grant or do we need to show validation for 100 percent of the grant money to receive the remaining 75k?

Answer:  The CORE Grant program will operate differently than the loan program .Recipients of grant funding from the application will only need to show receipts for 70% of the first disbursement of $50K in addition to the site visit, as long as they match the approved budget.

5. Will a notarized letter of agency or letter of intent suffice for the lease agreement requirement to apply for the $125,000 grant funds?

Answer:  A notarized letter of agency or intent will not be sufficient to apply for the grant.  Either of those documents can be revoked at any time by the grantor, unlike a lease. Additionally, the letter of agency is intended to be submitted after someone has leased a premises, not before the lease is executed.

6. Can my grant application be considered if I don't submit all required documentation?

Answer: No, a grant application shall be deemed incomplete and not considered for a grant if it lacks the required responses or documentation.

7. Can I submit my Employer Identification Number (EIN) by itself to satisfy the business formation documentation requirement? 

Answer: No. An EIN, by itself, will not satisfy the business formation documentation requirement.  

8. If the number of applications received simultaneously exceeds the number of grants available, how will you determine who will get the grant? 

Answer: The applications will be reviewed for completeness in the order in which they were received, and grants will be awarded totaling $1.25 million. The number of grant awardees will be determined by the amount they requested on their approved applications on a first come, first served basis.

9.  I only have verbal quotes for the amounts I've listed in the budget section, do I need to provide written verification for each amount listed? 

Answer:  You don’t need to provide written verification for the amounts listed. If you are awarded a grant and those amounts should change, we will require an updated budget to match the new amounts and receipts to match the budget. But for the purposes of assessing the grant application for completeness, we will be looking to make sure your budget outlines only allowable expenses and that the budget narrative that matches the budget.

10. If a CUP has been granted for the business site and a Z or P number issued, does the applicant need to attach a copy of the CUP approval/Record of Decision (ROD) with the Grant application? Or is listing the Z or P number sufficient?

Answer: If the location has an approved CUP, submission of the ROD is discretionary.  Our review for completeness will include a verification of the Z- or P-number and the ROD to make sure that the CUP matches the business type.

11. Is the cost to install the necessary equipment for delivery vehicle compliance included in the list of acceptable investments? If so, is there a limit? For example a used hybrid delivery vehicle would run approximately 25,000 and another 5,000 to add cameras, GPS, lockbox, etc.

Answer: The cost for a delivery vehicle and any updates necessary to meet compliance are eligible use of proceeds for the grant application. There is no limit on expenses for any particular item, although if you are awarded the grant, we will need to see receipts matching the budget items purchased. If there are changes to the amounts on your submitted budget, you will need to submit a modified budget. For vehicles specifically, we will also need the VIN number to match to our records.

12. How much of the lease agreement should be uploaded with the grant application? Can I just provide the first and last, signature page for submission in the interest of time?

Answer:  We are requiring submissions to include the full lease. The application page can accept files up to 10 megabytes and you can use this free online PDF compression tool to reduce the size of your application. 

13. I am a shared manufacturer but will apply for a grant for my own distribution company.  Will I qualify to apply even though I don’t have a location for the distribution business?

Answer:  You are eligible to apply for the grant based on your current license and use the shared manufacturing premises as your location.

14. If we are not able to digitally sign the CORE grant application document, would a scanned signature be enough?

Answer:  A wet signature is not required to submit the application.  An electronic/digital/scanned signature is sufficient.

 

DISCUSSIONS ON DISBURSEMENT OF GRANT FUNDS

At both the May 3rd and June 2nd CORE Stakeholder meetings, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) started the discussion with CORE stakeholders on how to disburse the $1.4 million allocated for grants. PPT presentations and videos from those meetings can be viewed here.

OCM collected all ideas and feedback that participants shared at both those meetings and via email and sorted them into seven grant program options.

At the August 4th, an online poll was conducted to identify stakeholders’ top three choices, as well as their preferred disbursement method. The poll questions can be viewed here.

POLL RESULTS FROM AUGUST 4 STAKEHOLDER MEETING

Participants filled out polls on how the $1.4 million in state funding the City received this year for grants should be disbursed to CORE members. Participants received three votes for the grant program options to use in any combination, including voting for the same option multiple times. We had 63 stakeholders in the meeting participate. The option that received the most support with 45 votes was for CORE members with leased/owned locations only (no CUP required), followed by the Incubator/Social Enterprise business (building an eco-system) option with 35 votes, and CORE members with submitted BOPs only with 34 votes.  

We then followed up with a poll focused on further refining these grant options to find out more about how the funds should be disbursed. We had 66 stakeholders in the meeting participate in this second poll. Most participants did not prefer a reimbursement method for these funds (57.6% or 38 votes). Similarly, most participants wanted a portion of the funding to be set aside for small grants on a first come, first serve basis (57.6% or 38 votes). The tiered disbursement methods with the highest percentage of votes were by size of project (33.3% or 22 votes) and by business type including cost of business (cultivation, lab, nursery, delivery, etc) (24.2% or 16 votes). There was a tie between preferred options for the optimal amount for the grant. Both funding between $35,000 and $125,000 (fewer than 40 participants) and funding provided as mixed or tiered grants (combination of large, medium and small grants) received 31.8% or 21 votes each. And finally, the majority of participants responded that grants should be made available per CORE participant (56.1% or 37 votes).  The full results from both polls can be found here.  After the stakeholder meeting, nine additional stakeholders who had missed the meeting filled out the survey.  The updated summary data for all questions can be found here.  

Based on the full results, options for the grant program were developed. During the next Stakeholder meeting on September 22, you will be able to take a short survey to further refine these options. Click here to view the survey/poll questions.

SUMMARY RESULTS FROM SEPT 22 FOLLOW-UP  SURVEY

The summary results from the refinement survey, conducted both at the CORE Stakeholder Meeting on September 22, 2021 and through an online survey for those unable to attend the meeting, can be found here.

The majority of participants (58%) voted to allow CORE members with leased/owned locations ONLY to apply for grant funding. No CUP or BOP would be required to qualify to apply on a first come, first served basis. There was no consensus on whether grant funding should be awarded as a flat amount or as a mixed/tiered option or whether the funding should be given based on business type or project status.

However, participants overwhelmingly assigned Tier 1 funding of $125,000 to all project statuses and business types, which aligns more closely with awarding a flat amount of $125,000 to applicants on a first come first served basis. This would allow 11 CORE members to receive funding. The two small grant options with the most support were setting aside $150,000 for either $3,000 or $5,000 grants.  Further refinement is needed to finalize the grant program.