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Small Businesses In LA County Can Now Apply For Grants From $98M Regional COVID Fund

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Kyndra McCrary was on top of the world when Oprah and Weight Watchers named her restaurant, Swift Cafe, one of their favorite healthy eateries in Los Angeles this past February.

Businesses Closed COVID-19
A number of businesses have seen their revenues plummet in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. (CBSLA)

"That announcement happened two weeks before COVID," McCrary said. "So, literally, we saw a drop in sales of 80%."

McCrary said she applied for both Paycheck Protection Program and Small Business Administration loans.

"And to put in all that work, and not receive the funding is another frustrating thing," she said.

But for those who have been left behind by both federal and state relief efforts, the city and county of Los Angeles have come together to create a $98 million grant program for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

"Six thousand entities will be made better as a result of these resources — anywhere from $5,000 to $75,000 per entity," Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

Businesses that meet certain criteria will be given special preference, including businesses that operate in low and moderate income communities, are owned by veterans or have an annual gross revenue below $500,000. Grants will be distributed using a lottery system to ensure fair access for everyone.

Ridley-Thomas said minority-owned businesses are some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, something McCrary said she has seen in South Los Angeles.

"You can just see up and down Crenshaw, that's where the cafe is located," she said. "You can see a lot of closed gates and closed businesses or out of business signs."

McCrary said she will apply for the program and, if selected, plans to use the funds to pay staff and advertise to the community that she's open.

"I am a fighter, and I don't give up," she said. "So I am continuing to try to make my dreams come true."

Applications for the grant program can be completed online through Friday.

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