This week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to create the Los Angeles County COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Program which calls for the creation of the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a public-private partnership that will provide critical funding for hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits in L.A. County being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The motion aims to counteract COVID-19 related financial hardships small businesses and nonprofits are currently facing across all industries.
“Our small businesses and nonprofits are economically and culturally interwoven in the fabric that makes up Los Angeles County,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “I am proud of Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo Foundation, Citi, and our other private sector partners for joining with the County of Los Angeles to bring needed resources to our businesses, who are suffering great losses as we cope with this unprecedented pandemic.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant hardship to our businesses, and to the nonprofits that support the County’s service delivery infrastructure,” said Joseph M. Nicchitta, Director of the County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. ““The County has long demonstrated its commitment to the wellbeing of our County’s small business and nonprofit community, and I’m honored to work with the Board of Supervisors and alongside my colleagues across the County to deliver badly needed support to the businesses and nonprofits in the region.”
The County will seed the Relief Fund with an initial $12 million dollars investment. Private sector partners have also joined in to leverage this initial investment. Initial private sector commitments include $15 million in capital by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, $1 million from Wells Fargo Foundation, $100,000 from Citi, and $25,000 from Union Bank Foundation.
The County’s partnership with Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., will open a new channel for up to $15 million of additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans targeting microenterprises and nonprofits through Goldman Sachs’ national community development financial institution partner, Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF). CRF plans to work through local partners to reach target businesses and nonprofits who might otherwise not have access to the PPP program via a traditional banking relationship.
“Ensuring all businesses have access to these resources is of paramount importance,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, emphasizing the importance of equity and inclusivity as resources are made available to local businesses. “We know from history and intuitively that the best-resourced businesses are often first in line for available relief.”
“A crisis of this scale demands innovative thinking and fast action,” said Margaret Anadu, Head of the Urban Investment Group of Goldman Sachs. “We are heartened by the County’s definitive response and proud to play a role in helping support small businesses, which are so critical to the well-being of communities across Los Angeles County.”
“This is an inspiring example of how public-private partnerships can deliver much-needed capital rapidly and at scale,” said Keith Rachey, chief impact officer for CRF. “With the dedication of community partners on the ground, and the generous support of private sector partners, CRF is proud to help make a difference for small businesses and nonprofits in Los Angeles County.”
“Wells Fargo supports this important effort to provide much needed grants and technical assistance directly to some of LA’s small businesses most in need of help during this critical time. We thank the County of Los Angeles for its leadership and collaboration to help our small business community which is so vital to our local economy,” said Gregg Sherkin, Senior Vice President and Senior Manager of Wells Fargo’s Corporate Philanthropy and Community Relations.
Additional support from Citi will provide $100,000 to the LA Area Chamber of Commerce to provide additional technical assistance and outreach for businesses. MUFG Union Bank Foundation’s $25,000 philanthropic contribution will serve as an operating grant to support local community development financial institution partners’ work to deploy Relief Fund capital.
“During this uncertain time, we need to come together to ensure that vital small business supports are as accessible and inclusive as possible,” said James Alva, Senior VP and Market Manager for Citi. “This cross-sector initiative will enable more micro-business owners to unlock the critical funding championed by the LA County Supervisors.”
The Relief Fund compliments recent County programs to support small businesses, including $500,000 in small business grants available through the Workforce Development, Aging, and Community Services Department, and a $3 million small business loan program through the Los Angeles County Development Authority. The County has also begun to provide technical assistance to help small businesses access state and federal funds that are being made available to abate the impact of the crisis, through Department of Consumer and Business (DCBA) Help Center.
“The Relief Fund represents a commitment by the County of Los Angeles to support our entire region,” added Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “It is an important start, but it is just that: a start. I call on our private sector partners to join us in our continued efforts to raise additional capital for our region’s business owners and entrepreneurs.
The Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) will launch the fund the week of April 27, 2020. For more information about how to access available funds and updates on the Relief Fund, visit the County’s Disaster Help Center at lacountyhelpcenter.org, or call 833-238-4450.