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Home / News / The Industry / LA County offers $4.1M in grants for businesses impacted by COVID, strikes

LA County offers $4.1M in grants for businesses impacted by COVID, strikes

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by Staff
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Los Angeles County on Thursday launched a $4.1 million grant program to help businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic and the two recent Hollywood strikes.

The Department of Economic Opportunity, County Film Office and county Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Kathryn Barger unveiled the program that intends to provide relief to small and micro businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 and the 2023 strikes by writers and actors.  

“Los Angeles County is investing in the diverse businesses that fuel our creative economy through the Entertainment Business Interruption Fund,” Horvath said in a statement. “This $4.1 million will be a lifeline to the prop houses, florists, caterers, and other small businesses that continue to face economic fallout after the recent strikes and slow return of local productions. LA County will continue to show up for the businesses that are the lifeblood of the entertainment industry, and incentivize film and TV production right here in LA County.” 

The world’s highest percentage of actors, filmmakers entertainment companies and other professional creatives live in LA County, officials said.

According to the latest Otis Report, before the strikes the film-television industry employed more than 1 million people and generated revenue surpassing $208 billion.

But in May 2023, most production severely slowed or complete halted when the Writers Guild of America went on strike. Production then shut down completely in July when the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists also went on strike. The double Strikes lasted until November 2023 making it the longest entertainment strike in history. 

The grants are funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act, and the Entertainment Business Interruption Fund will provide awards of either $10,000 or $25,000 to COVID-impacted small and micro businesses that support the entertainment industry in LA County, officials said.

Grant applicants must be a for-profit business with $3 million or less in annual gross revenue, according to the county. At least 70% of the business’ revenue must come from the entertainment industry, and the company must have experienced economic hardships from the pandemic from March 2020 to the present.

The deadline to apply is May 24 at 5 p.m. Applications are available online.

Barger said “through the … Business Interruption Fund, we’re able to provide a critical lifeline to the variety of small businesses that took a hard hit from both the pandemic and the recent historic double Hollywood strikes. The mom and pop businesses behind our most cherished films in the entertainment industry reside in the County of Los Angeles and are a strong  engine of our local economy.”

The County Film Office has partnered with Lendistry to administer the grants and Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) to provide help completing applications.

“While the strikes have ended and fair deals were negotiated, we know that there are continuing impacts on small businesses supporting the entertainment industry even now as production has started to resume in LA County,” Kelly LoBianco, director of the Economic Opportunity Department, said in a statement. “We need to support and ensure the future resiliency of our trademark sector as they recover and get back on their feet.”

LoBianco said this latest round of funding expands the department’s $50 million Economic Opportunity Grant program, adding to the nearly 4,800 small businesses and nonprofits the DEO and Lendistry have assisted.

“The Business Interruption Fund builds on the more than $50 billion already awarded to small businesses and nonprofits in 2023 through the Economic Opportunity Grant Program and DEO’s growing portfolio of capital access opportunities,” according to a county statement. “Through BIF, DEO will award approximately 230+ grants in two levels based on revenue size and businesses that fall within the highest, high, and moderate tiers of the County’s COVID-19 Vulnerability and Recovery Index with 1/3 of total grant funds randomly awarded to businesses that fall within each tier. Awardees will be chosen via random selection.”

Businesses with revenue of $1 million to $3 million receive $25,000 grants, and $10,000 awards go to companies with under $1 million in revenue, officials said.

“Small businesses are the life blood for the Entertainment Industry and keep productions moving,” Gary Smith, head of the LA County Film Office, said in a statement.

“Without these small businesses, Hollywood cannot exist,” Smith added. 

Officials estimate the two Hollywood strikes cost the California economy between $3 billion and $4 billion, and that LA County was impacted most severely because it has the world’s highest concentration of production facilities, studios, unions, guilds and associations. This large-scale loss of wealth mirrors the economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic from which many of the over 40,000 small businesses are still trying to recover.  

“We understand the unique challenges faced by small businesses whose livelihoods rely on a bustling entertainment industry,” Lendistry President and CEO Tunua Thrash-Ntuk said in a statement. “This program is an opportunity to help these businesses to bounce back stronger and continue contributing to the community.” 

Pat Nye, executive director of the LA SBDC Network, said in a statement, “We applaud the LA County Film Office for supporting our local small businesses that are essential to America’s entertainment industry. We’re proud to be a partner in this one-of-kind resource.” 

Officials made the grant announcement Thursday at History for Hire, a family-owned, small-business prop house in North Hollywood that has been in operation since 1985. Over 35 small businesses applied for BIF assistance at the unveiling event and received technical or application support, officials said. 

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