LA County Goes to Bat for Small Business

Left to Right: Byeong Seong Lee and his son, Chan Lee, at the family owned Rex’s Baseball Batting Cage in Athens. Photo by Aurelia Ventura / Board of Supervisors

Since 1978, Rex’s Baseball Batting Cage has been a community staple for the West Athens area. The 18,295 square foot outdoor batting cage provides an opportunity for residents to keep their baseball skills sharp by practicing their swing on its baseball and softball pitching machines. However, like so many other businesses in the face of COVID-19 and “Safe at Home” orders that shut down all non-essential business, it faced immediate, existential challenges to stay in business over the last two months.

“Before COVID-19, we were just getting into the baseball season,” said Chan Lee, Co-Owner of Rex’s Baseball Batting Cage, who has been running the family owned business with his father since he purchased it in 2005. “It was a very difficult two months with a lot of uncertainty.”

It was during this time, Lee learned about the Los Angeles County Small Business Recovery Loan Program which provides loans for small businesses to help cover operating expenses so that they are able to survive during this difficult moment. The program focused on small businesses with twenty or less employees in unincorporated areas of the county, and provided up to $20,000 in loans, making it possible to keep their doors open. While the program is currently closed for new applications, additional funding will become available late summer or early fall.

“The County of Los Angeles has stepped up to the plate to make sure that small businesses reopen,” said LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has been a champion for small businesses authoring a motion to provide resources.  “But that is no substitute for the foot traffic that makes small businesses thrive. When they thrive, our communities thrive.”

“This loan helped us catch up on our bills.  It helped us keep the lights on and open back up,” said Lee at Rex’s Baseball Batting Cage during its first month back open.  “Glad to be able to open back up for the community.”