Grants totaling $500,000 have been awarded to 59 small businesses, nonprofits and for-profit community organizations since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, saving 311 jobs, the Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services announced Monday.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger said small businesses are critical to the county’s economic health.
“The Employer Assistance Grant Program in L.A. County has helped our small businesses during this time of economic uncertainty,” Barger said. “Small business is the backbone of our economy, and these grants helped in a concrete way, highlighting our county’s commitment to economic resiliency and recovery.”
The department launched the Los Angeles County Employer Assistance Grant Fund on April 9, offering grants up to $10,000 to local businesses to support them through the pandemic.
The funding came from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the State Employment Development Department and was awarded in partnership with the Robert’s Enterprise Development Fund.
Grants were made to businesses in the hospitality, travel, entertainment, professional services, education, technology, legal, environmental, health care and nonprofit sectors. Thirty-nine of the recipients are minority-, women- or veteran-owned enterprises, according to WDACS.
The department estimates that nearly $1.5 million in revenues will be saved as result of the infusion of capital.
Supervisor Janice Hahn said more needs to be done.
“We have been able to use these grants to keep some small businesses afloat and save local jobs, but there are so many more businesses that have been devastated by this pandemic and need help,” she said. “There is a huge amount of work ahead of us, but the county is doing everything we can to help local businesses and workers during this crisis.”
WDACS’ acting director, Otto Solorzano, said the grants are just the beginning.
“WDACS has responded quickly by launching this innovative program to provide funding where it could do the most good,” he said. “Our team is working tirelessly to bring other resources and supportive services to employers and workers who are struggling, and the Employer Assistance Grant Fund was just the start.”
Businesses seeking resources and services to avoid closures or layoffs can visit workforce.lacounty.gov or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social enterprises that offer support services to community members will be essential to economic recovery, according to Carla Javits, president and CEO of Robert’s Enterprise Development Fund.
“Social enterprise businesses — those that combine profit and purpose — are valuable assets to our communities addressing some of society’s greatest challenges,” Javits said. “As the economy reopens, the jobs, supportive services and training that employment social enterprises provide will be in even higher demand by people whose experiences with homelessness and the criminal justice system not only make it difficult to access employment, but have left them vulnerable to the pandemic.”
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said support for small businesses is vital.
“Ninety percent of businesses in Los Angeles County are small businesses. They power our local and regional economies,” he said. “From the mom and pop store to the small dance studio — we have to continue to make sure when COVID-19 is gone, they remain.”
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