Applications are open for the Downtown Long Beach Alliance’s Entrepreneur and Small Business Education Series, which will span six Saturdays, from April 2 to May 14. Those who participate in the first five sessions will be eligible for a “Pitchfest” on the final day, where they can showcase their businesses to win a grant from a $20,000 pool.

The six-week program, which launched in 2017 with help from the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Cal State Long Beach (IIE), will focus on all aspects of starting a business.

“The idea was to provide some of the basics for operating a small business like accounting, HR practices, marketing, developing a business plan, but then also to provide a bit of an incentive in terms of grants that we would make available to participants,” the DLBA’s Economic Development and Policy Manager Austin Metoyer told the Business Journal.

The first five weeks will consist of Saturday workshops held from 8 to noon at Studio One Eleven in Downtown Long Beach. Each week will focus on different skills needed to start and manage a business. Businesses can choose to join any number of the five workshops, which are:

  • The Value of a Business Plan: April 2
  • Your Marketing Plan: April 9
  • Financial Aspects of your Business: April 23
  • Where to Locate your Business: April 30
  • Legal and HR Questions: May 7

Each workshop will have two modules and will be led by an expert from places like Cal State Long Beach’s Business School, the IIE and the Small Business Development Center.

Generally, the program accepts 50 to 60 participants per class, but COVID-19 has forced the size of the class down to 30 to 40. However, Metoyer says the program has never turned any business down and will work to capture the program virtually if any of the workshops attracts more businesses than allowed.

While businesses are allowed to choose which workshops to attend, the goal of the workshop is to have as many participants as possible go through all five weeks of the program.

“Ideally, you are keeping the same cohort of folks throughout,” Metoyer said.

To encourage this, those who attend all five of the workshops will receive a commemorative certificate recognizing their attendance and will be eligible to participate in a pitch competition on May 14.

Up to seven businesses will be selected for grants from a pool of $20,000 provided by Farmers and Merchant Bank. Business owners will show their ideas off to a panel of judges that includes entrepreneurs and leaders in the community, according to Metoyer.

Those interested in applying must prepare a Powerpoint presentation that outlines their business plan and model. They also must be located in the Downtown Parking Improvement Area, which extends from 10th Street to Shoreline Drive and from Golden Avenue to Alamitos Avenue.

Grants are also targeted at small businesses, so only for-profit businesses with 24 or fewer employees will be considered. Business owners will receive the funds after the DLBA Economic Committee’s approval on June 8.

For more information and to register, visit

Christian May-Suzuki is a reporter at the Long Beach Business Journal.