A server delivers food to a table inside MeeMa's restaurant in Bixby Knolls Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Businesses around Long Beach will finally see money from the Long Beach Recovery Act in the form of direct financial assistance, the city announced today—exactly one year after the plan was approved by the City Council.

Applications are being accepted for several grant programs targeting small businesses in the sectors most deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The application period ends on May 15 at 8 p.m. but the review process will begin as early as April 15 with funds awarded shortly after, according to the announcement.

The four programs offer financial assistance for a variety of businesses, including $5,000 to $25,000 grants for restaurants, breweries and bars; $5,000 to $25,000 grants for personal service and fitness establishments; $5,000 to $25,000 grants for nonprofits; and $2,500 to $10,000 grants for for small businesses that do not quality for for the other programs.

The city’s economic recovery plan—funded by the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act—was approved on March 16, 2021, by the council, and funding from the federal stimulus package officially became available to the city in October.

The city’s plan initially was based on about $250 million in federal funding. Following council approval, however, the city received just over $226 million, which resulted in allocations being reduced for many programs.

The city used $13 million to assist businesses and nonprofits with COVID-19 protections during some of the worst of the pandemic. Now, the city will use $20.6 million dedicated for direct support for Long Beach businesses.

The Restaurant, Brewery and Bar Relief and the Personal Services and Finance Relief grant programs each have $4 million allocated to distribute to businesses in those sectors. The city reserved $1.6 million for the Small Business Grant, and a slew of fees for businesses and nonprofits projected to total $2.8 million will also be waived sometime during the second phase.

On the nonprofit side, the Long Beach Recovery Act has an allocation of $2.4 million to assist with a plethora of financial issues like reducing debt, paying rent and utilities, rehiring employees and restarting businesses.

More direct grants will be released for economic recovery in the third and fourth quarters, John Keisler, director of the Economic Development Department, said during a March 8 meeting. Arts and culture businesses will be provided approximately $900,000 in grants and $450,000 will be set aside for “customer activation grants” to reopen businesses and encourage spending.

According to the city, these grants will target nonprofit “economic development organizations,” and will assist them in developing and implementing strategies and programs that will help them connect with residents.

Also coming later this year is $250,000 in funds designated as eviction protection for commercial tenants and support for their landlords. This money will go toward financing a commercial tenant and property owner coordinator to work with high-need businesses and property owners to access $28 million in rental relief grants and other programs at the local, state, and federal level.

For more information on the city’s economic relief programs or to apply for grants, click here.

Christian May-Suzuki

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