Early this month, at least 16 Downtown businesses will receive some financial relief, thanks to Downtown Long Beach Alliance’s (DLBA) new Personal Care Services and Health & Wellness Grant. This will be a boost for these businesses, which were not protected by any other state or local relief programs.
Unlike DLBA’s previous grants which were open to all businesses, this economic recovery grant was designed specifically to help businesses that were completely shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic due to public health orders. $90,000 in grant money was available. Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“It’s been a roller coaster, to say the least: a really scary time,” said grant recipient Cody Ramirez, who owns and operates Americano Barber Co. in Downtown’s East Village. “We closed three different times. This grant is helping a lot.”
Austin Metoyer, Economic Development and Policy Manager for DLBA, explained grant eligibility conditions: “To be eligible for this grant, potential recipients had to be operating a Downtown business with a storefront,” he said. “Also, they had to show proof they had been closed down, and for how long. Finally, they had to have been in business prior to March 20, 2020. We were trying to focus on existing businesses that have been here for a while.”
Outer Limits Tattoo, located on what used to be the western edge of The Pike amusement park, is the former home of Bert Grimm’s World Famous Tattoo, which opened in 1927, and is the oldest continuously-run tattoo parlor in the United States. It is owned and operated by Kari Barba, a world-renowned tattoo artist who has been honing her craft for 42 years. “Our first reopening last year was short,” she said. “We were shut down again, 10 days later. We were shut down for almost 11 months during the past year.
“During the closures,” Barba continued, “we artists had to fend for ourselves. The grant money will be a huge help, covering a big chunk of back rent and bills.”
It is DLBA’s hope that its range of grant programs will serve as critical lifelines for small businesses at a pivotal moment, helping them rebuild and mobilize for future success in a diverse and vibrant Downtown Long Beach.
Metoyer added: “Like restaurants, these small businesses, about 150 in DTLB, were hit especially hard by the impact of shutdowns due to public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Though they still face a lengthy recovery, DLBA remains committed to working with our community to revitalize local businesses and providers through a variety of tools, including grants, programs, and educational resources.”
Click here to learn more about DLBA’s other Economic Development programs and tools for small businesses.