Business owners in Cypress who have weathered the economic downturn faced during the COVID pandemic might soon receive more support from their city.

Cypress City Council members unanimously voted at their meeting last week to approve the first phase of their business recovery and support programs by allocating $365,000 from city coffers to fund three programs.

The biggest chunk of the funding – $190,000 – is for overseeing and launching the Business Park Local Catering program, intended in part to reinvest money back into the local restaurant economy which city staff says has suffered from a lack of office traffic.

“This program will provide every business park business a $500 gift card, which will be used towards an employee appreciation event,” Alicia Velasco, the city’s planning director, said at last week’s meeting.

She added that those gift cards will be geo-fenced to only work in Cypress and not neighboring cities. 

City officials also hope the gift cards will help attract employees to return to the office three years after the start of the pandemic.

Councilwoman Bonnie Peat called the program an interesting and innovative approach to help local businesses.

“I appreciate it because we’ve talked a lot about the different restaurants on Katella specifically and how the businesses just aren’t back yet,” she said.

Approval of this program comes after the city council last year approved a pandemic recovery plan to spend close to $12 million of COVID federal bailout money allocation on replacing lost tax revenue and pay for general government services.

They allocated $1 million for business support and recovery.

View Cypress’ COVID Pandemic Recovery Plan here.

Prior to that in 2021, the city council approved $1.25 million to be used to fund small business resiliency grants as well as to launch a Home-Based Businesses Pandemic Support Program.

[Read: Cypress Allocates Funds For Home-Based Businesses Impacted by The Pandemic]

One of the new programs will allow 70 qualified businesses that didn’t receive other pandemic support and made improvements to their storefronts between January and May of 2021 to apply for development and permit fee refunds ranging from $100 to $7,000.

The development fee refund program is getting $150,000 in funding.

Since June 2021, Cypress has waived permit fees, according to Velasco.

“What this program would do would actually retroactively refund permit and development fees for those businesses who did exactly what businesses are doing now,” she said.

The third program, costing $25,000, is intended to help business owners looking to expand their business navigate building, safety and fire code through the help of technical consultants.

“This program would aim to provide that assistance and speed up the time it takes to get their building permit,” Velasco said.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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