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Saturday, Apr 13, 2024

County Grant Program Has $54 Million to Disburse

Applications are open for the first phase of the Economic Opportunity Grant program launched by the county and being administered by downtown-based Lendistry and the local Small Business Development Center.

The program, a product of the Los Angeles County Department of Economic Opportunity, is offering more than $54 million in grants for small businesses, microbusinesses and nonprofit organizations. The funding comes courtesy of federal monies released through the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Recipients will have to show they were adversely affected by the onset of the pandemic and will be able to use the funds to offset financial setbacks.

“It’s a wide range of what they might be leveraging the money for,” said Lendistry Chief Executive Everett K. Sands. “It’s interesting in terms of what the businesses utilize the money for, and you’d be surprised.”

Everett Sands CEO of Lendistry. (Photo by Ringo Chiu)
Lendistry CEO Everett K. Sands in his downtown offices.

Phase one of the program, which is targeting so-called microbusinesses, which gross less than $50,000 in annual revenue, will take applications through Feb. 23 or when the phase allotment is expended. Such enterprises are typically side projects being started by someone working elsewhere and hoping to develop their own businesses.

“You want to think about your businesses where maybe somebody has a contracting business — which could be construction, for example — and they’re just getting started and have been doing odd jobs,” Sands explained. “You’re thinking of businesses where it’s somebody’s secondary income and they hope it will become their primary income one day.”

Those applicants will receive grants of $2,500 — an amount that can help an upstart enterprise that is struggling to keep up with rent, bills or even a state business license.

“It’s one rent payment, one contract, one flow payment that could mean the difference,” Sands said.

Phase two will launch on Feb. 23, and in addition to targeting those microbusinesses, will expand to inviting small businesses and nonprofits. Small businesses will be eligible for grants of $15,000 to $20,000, while nonprofits can get $20,000 to $25,000.

“L.A. County’s small businesses and nonprofits are anchors to our local communities and kept us safe and connected during the pandemic, but they continue to struggle as we start to recover. Now, it is our turn to help through the Economic Opportunity Grants program,” said Kelly LoBianco, director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, in a statement. “Through EOG, we’re putting $50 million back into the community, creating pathways to opportunities and streamlining access to pandemic relief for all businesses in L.A. County.”

The program will last through May, or whenever the funds are expended. Lendistry and SBDC employees will be available to help applicants navigate the process and make sure their information and paperwork is all lined up. They’re also able to provide language assistance for more than a dozen languages.

Sands said Lendistry is also prepared to help applicants who may not receive or be eligible for this assistance.

“This is not necessarily ‘get the grant or bust,’” he said. “There are certainly other programs that they can be taking advantage of.”

To apply for the grants, visit grants.lacounty.gov.

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Zane Hill Author