Angela Mensa, owner of District Wine on Linden Avenue was awarded a Woman-Owned Business Accelerator grant last year from the Downtown Long Beach Alliance. Photo courtesy of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance

Applications are open for the Woman-Owned Business Accelerator Grant, which will award funds and provide business coaching to up to five winners selected by Downtown Long Beach Alliance’s Economic Development Committee.

Business owners have until Oct. 7 to apply; requirements include operating a woman-owned or majority woman-owned business within Downtown Long Beach that has fewer than 24 employees.

“When we were first approached with the concept, we were certainly enthusiastic about it,” said Cheryl Ryman, Community Reinvestment Act officer at Farmers & Merchants Bank, which is funding the grant.

The bank was initially approached by the Downtown Long Beach Alliance in 2019, and the first grants were offered in 2020.

“We certainly recognize the importance of small businesses and women in all communities, but certainly in Long Beach, which is our home city,” Ryman said.

Not only will up to five recipients receive a portion of $10,000 funded by Farmers & Merchants Bank, but recipients will also participate in a free workshop training provided by California State University Long Beach’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The workshop will include social media advertising, financial statement analysis and decision-making, human resource management, financial management tools and more.

Grant winners will also receive business development coaching from Downtown’s Fuller Management Corporation, at an estimated value of  $3,000.

Receiving additional business support on top of funding can “make the difference between success and failure,” said Ryman.

“The importance of documentation, financial bookkeeping, maintaining your namesake really, just to know how important that is throughout the life of your business, I think that those are things that small businesses can take for granted, not realizing that there’s a cost to not knowing how important that is,” said Ryman. “This can give them that list towards success.”

Past recipients include Cathleen Cleveland, owner of Ash Bay Soap, Sasha Pace, owner of VIDA Plant Shop, and Maggie Stoll, owner of the boutique Burke Mercantile.

“We’re proud to be supporters of the DLBA and the Woman-Owned Business program, and congratulations to the women who have taken the right step in participating in the program, even if they’re not awarded the grant,” said Ryman. “And, congratulations to the women who get the grant, we look forward to being their partners.”

Grant applications can be submitted online.