Los Angeles County has lost over 1 million jobs due to COVID-19 while jobless claims remain at a two-year high and are expected to continue to rise as many businesses struggle to adapt to new safety protocols. Many hardworking small businesses owners who have struggled to reopen their establishments safely and responsibly, and in compliance with County health orders and guidelines, need technical assistance and financial support as various sectors continue to open their doors for business. Wanting to give small businesses a fair chance at surviving this pandemic, the Board of Supervisors today approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn, directing the County to provide support and grants to small businesses seeking compliance with health orders and guidelines.
“With at least 434,645 businesses employing less than 100 employees, small businesses are the backbone of the County’s economy. Yet, many are struggling to purchase adequate amounts of gloves, face masks, and hand sanitizer,” said Supervisor Solis. “A number of local small businesses were unable to access federal funds to weather this economic downturn, and they need our help to survive. LA County will step up and help mom-and-pop shops adjust to new social distancing requirements and provide them with technical assistance so they can better compete in this new economic reality. Small businesses provide thousands of local jobs, and LA County will support these hardworking entrepreneurs to make sure they survive at this crucial moment, and go on to thrive in the long-run.”
“Our small businesses have been some of the hardest hit by this pandemic,” said Supervisor Hahn. “Between trying to pay rent and keep up payroll expenses many of them just can’t shore up the resources to purchase all the protective equipment needed control the spread of COVID-19. This Program will give them a helping hand by offsetting the costs of the gear they will have to purchase – such as masks, sanitation equipment, and plexi-glass shields – to keep both their employees and customers safe as we re-open LA County.”
LA County’s small entrepreneurs, particularly those located in low-income communities, face difficult readjustments due to compliance requirements with state and County health orders. Complicating matters further, some of these small shops, including those in unincorporated East Los Angeles, endured looting and damage stemming from the protests over the killing of George Floyd, which places an additional financial burden on these small shops.
Some of the businesses that sustained damage were owned by immigrants. Foreign-born immigrant entrepreneurs contribute $700 billion to LA County’s economy, and two-thirds of all small enterprises in the County are immigrant-owned and operated. As the County moves along in reopening and establishing a new normal, it is imperative that small businesses receive the support they need to access personal protective equipment to keep their staff and clients healthy as they open up for business.
Today’s motion directs pertinent County Departments to report back within 14 days with recommendations and a plan to establish a new LA County Pandemic-Compliant Businesses and Workers Partnership Program to support local small businesses, and their workers, to ensure they adhere to state and County health orders and guidelines.
The Board motion also calls for prioritizing resources for businesses in historically underserved areas and those impacted by the current civil unrest. It also requires participating businesses to provide the number of workers retained and/or rehired as a result of this new program, and it will require that these businesses work with their local workforce development boards as they begin to rehire.
In addition, the motion calls for providing up to $3,000 grants to fund up to 20,000 eligible small businesses with less than 100 employees so these small enterprises could purchase protective gear and sanitization materials. It also directs pertinent County departments to provide technical assistance to all eligible businesses so they can be COVID-19 compliant.
Further, the motion also directs departments to set aside a minimum of $60 million to administer this new program through a partnership among the County, state, city, private sector and philanthropic sectors.
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