Hermosa Beach approved appropriating funds for small business grants that will give $10,000 to 11 businesses. The grants are designed to help restaurants and small retailers. The city also closed off a lane of Pier Avenue to accommodate outdoor spaces during the coronavirus pandemic in Hermosa Beach on Friday, February 12, 2021. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

Hemosa Beach last week approved awarding $110,000 in grants to small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Eleven businesses, which have yet to be chosen, will each receive $10,000.

The grants are part of the Los Angeles County-run Small Business Grant Assistance Program. But the money will come from federal Community Development Block Grant funds awarded to Hermosa Beach for various other projects, such as sidewalk upgrades. Those projects, though, will continue with funding from other sources, said Ken Robertson, the city’s community development director.

This is the first time the small beach town has been able to participate in the countywide business program because the city is not considered a low-to-moderate income service area, Robertson said this week. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the program — overseen by the LA County Development Authority, which administers CDBG money — is now considering how grants to businesses can also help the often low- and moderate-income workers those companies employ, Robertson said.

That means Hermosa’s CDBG funds, Robertson added, can now go toward helping “businesses survive the pandemic or flourish as they emerge from the pandemic and help employ low and moderate income people.”

The businesses that receive the grants can use the money, according to the Development Authority, for employee payroll, as working capital to keep operations running, to pay outstanding expenses, or to buy equipment meant to ensure physical distancing.

Hermosa Beach will provide the grants with nearly $76,000 in unspent money from Americans with Disabilities sidewalk projects and more than $37,000 from the federal CARES Act.

Because that money was initially set aside for other uses, the Hermosa Beach City Council had to OK spending the CDBG money on the small business program, which the panel voted to do this week.

“We understand the struggles local businesses have faced during the pandemic,” Hermosa Beach Mayor Justin Massey said in a statement, “and re-directing these funds into the Small Business Grant Assistance Program is another way the City is helping them.”

The Development Authority will select which businesses receive the money and issue the checks to them, according to a city staff report.

The grant is specifically designed to help restaurants, coffee shops, salons and small retail stores hit hardest by forced closures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. National chains, nonprofits, financial institutions and real estate salespeople are ineligible, according to the Development Authority.

The Development Authority will accept intake forms from March 1 to March 5 and then hold a lottery to determine which 11 businesses will have to complete a more comprehensive application to get the money.

To qualify, a business must:

  • Have an active business license and have been operating in Hermosa Beach for two years;
  • Have no unresolved city or health code violations; and
  • Have fewer than 500 employees.

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