Grant Funds For Small Biz
By Dianne Anderson
Mom and pop micro and small businesses along with many nonprofits often miss out on good money while trying to single handedly juggle community outreach and the minutia of operations.
But if they get their applications in on time, they can soon tap a great lineup of new funding, support services and programs with no strings attached.
“It’s probably the last pandemic-related grant that will be available. I always caution people that a grant to a business is taxable, but a grant is not a loan. You don’t have to pay it back,” said Patrick Nye, executive director of economic development for Long Beach City College, and regional director of the Los Angeles SBDC Network.
The Small Business Development Center is hosted at Long Beach City College. From Los Angeles County, of the grants in the Economic Opportunity Program, one targets micro-businesses under $50,000 in revenue annually, the smallest businesses in the county.
Other grants are federal, and also target micro-businesses, small businesses and nonprofits.
For Phase 1, the microbusiness grant for $2,500 application is open through May 5. Phase 2 offers $15,000 for microbusinesses. Applications are open for $20,000 to nonprofits and small business, as well as micro-businesses with grants of 15,000 through May 20.
“With those, the county is very interested in utilizing the pandemic emergency resource. It’s aimed at those who haven’t gotten to take advantage of some of the bigger resources we saw early on in the pandemic,” Nye said.
Los Angeles County specifically targets under-resourced communities within the economically disadvantaged and under-invested areas of the county. With their equity explorer map online available to the public, the county can identify specific corridors that need the most assistance.
SBDC contracts with Los Angeles County, and is leading the outreach to help with applications. The county controls the funding and makes the determination of who gets funded.
“These can be complicated and small business may not have a lot of experience applying for grants. We have a whole call center dedicated to this, and we do several webinars every day to answer questions,” he said.
There is a good showing of the Black community’s participation in the process as the county has focused on corridors that may have been ignored by other resources or programs. SBDC also has in-person canvassing events where people bring all documentation, tax information, their business license, and get help on the spot with professional business advisors.
“We are definitely in areas that have high concentrations of Black/African American owned businesses. We’re engaging community based organizations to help with some outreach because they may have relationships, and we can get in front of their constituents or membership and invite people to utilize these resources,” he said.
Grants are available, and he is encouraging the community to take advantage of both the grants and low-interest loans. SBDC is a federally funded program, and assistance is provided at no cost.
Long Beach City College is conveniently located, and SBDC teams go out regularly, offering services in 20 different languages.
During the pandemic, many businesses and nonprofits took a tremendous hit, but American Rescue Plan Act funding is still flowing down until the end of Fiscal Year 2024.
There are some limitations. Funds are from federal sources, and no cannabis vendors can apply. Those who previously received the California covid relief grant are also not eligible.
For nonprofits, the Phase 2 ARPA grant must be a nonprofit in Los Angeles and serve within Los Angeles County. Applicants can access all resources at grants.lacounty.gov with its application portal and call center. There’s a list of documentation needed to apply, and a calendar for webinars.
Nye said the community can access SBDC’s specialized programming, including Black Business Strategies, a cohort based program since 2021 for new and existing Black businesses resources and advice.
Classes are virtual with curriculum and expert business advisors available to answer whatever challenges participants may face.
“We pay our advisors, we get ex-bankers and people who can help you get a loan because they know who to talk to you. We are the best kept secret, but we’re working on that,” he said.
More money is also coming down to help small brick and mortar businesses look good from the outside.Owners can access improvement grants up to $25,000 per storefront and $175,000 per parcel.
“Long Beach is proud to offer this important grant program to help local commercial property owners stay in business,” said Mayor Rex Richardson. “The City continues to remain committed to investing in repair programs that support the needs of our community.”
Chelsey Magallon, spokesperson for Long Beach Development Services, said their new program is reaching neighborhoods that have a high showing of people of color to help businesses that serve the residents.
Applications were mailed to all commercial property owners in the Place-Based Neighborhood Improvement Strategy, and Racially and Ethnically Concentrated Areas of Poverty areas of Long Beach. They are also conducting door-to-door and storefront to storefront outreach to businesses to encourage landlords to apply for the program.
Other grant opportunities are available, including the Visual Improvement Program Grant for businesses impacted by vandalism.
“The Development Services Department is thrilled to be offering this program and working with business owners to help beautify and enhance our business corridors for residents and visitors alike to enjoy,” she said.
For more grants information, see https://eog.smallbizla.org/
For more information on facade improvement, see https://longbeach.gov/lbds/hn/ccfip/