As more Santa Clarita Valley businesses prepare to reopen amid changing COVID-19 restrictions, many local organizations are continuing to provide assistance.
Whether it’s the College of the Canyons Small Business Development Center, SCV Economic Development Corp. or SCV Chamber of Commerce, SCV’s business organizations, along with county resources, like the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer & Business Affairs, have been working to help businesses get back on track.
“We have an obligation and opportunity to serve those small businesses who have been suffering during the pandemic,” county DCBA Director Rafael Carbajal said. “We are proud of the painstaking work we have pursued with our partners to provide a plethora of resources for businesses throughout the county. While we have reached the final phase of our existing grant programs, our advocacy work to expand small business resources continues.”
SCV Economic Development Corp.
“A big part of what we’ve been doing is really just helping businesses make sense of what’s going on,” said Holly Schroeder, CEO and president of the SCVEDC.
As businesses were faced with the roller coaster of changes in restrictions through the year, the SCVEDC worked to make sense of them, keep track of the public health orders and what applied to them, Schroeder added.
Through these changes, the SCVEDC has hosted a number of webinars to keep the business community informed, as well as help them stay abreast of what resources are out there and to learn from each other.
And as restrictions continue to change, the SCVEDC is committed to continuing to do just that.
“One of the things we’ve been trying to do is just make sure people know, and stay on top of that, because it has been a rapidly changing target,” Schroeder said.
In addition, the SCVEDC continues to provide businesses with information regarding current COVID-19 relief grants and loans available to them.
For more information, visit scvedc.org/coronavirus.
SCV Chamber of Commerce
Like the SCVEDC, the chamber has been working to assist businesses in navigating the pandemic since its onset a year ago.
On the chamber’s website, businesses can find a COVID-19 resource page, filled with information regarding grants and local updates, as well as videos of past webinars the chamber has hosted.
The chamber has also created a number of campaigns, including a first responders gratitude campaign and shop local campaign, encouraging SCV residents to support local businesses.
For more information, visit scvchamber.com/cpages/state-resources.
COC’s Small Business Development Center
Similarly, the SBDC has been assisting businesses with keeping up to date with available COVID-19 relief grants and loans, according to director Catherine Grooms.
The SBDC provides business owners in the SCV, as well as the San Fernando Valley, Antelope Valley and L.A. Metro areas, with professional business advisors at no cost, accessible via phone and virtual appointments.
“We know how critical small to medium businesses are … they’re the driver for the local economy and the national economy, and that’s why we exist as a resource,” Grooms said.
Whether it’s applying for disaster assistance or for guidance on reopening or even expanding their business, the SBDC can serve as a resource.
For more information, visit cocsbdc.org.
L.A. County’s Department of Consumer & Business Affairs
For businesses countywide, the DCBA has small business counselors available to provide technical assistance to business owners in response to COVID, among other resources, according to Jethro Rothe-Kushel, director of communications.
The DCBA also has hosted a number of webinars to help businesses sustain their operations, maximize financial resources and plan for the future.
In addition, the county’s Development Authority has launched a business loan program to support and help stabilize businesses in the region, ranging from $50,000 to $3 million, that can be used for working capital, equipment purchases, inventory or refinancing of existing loans at higher interest rates.
Businesses can access these resources and more through the county’s Disaster Help Center, a one-stop shop for small businesses impacted by the pandemic looking to access capital, avoid layoffs, reopen safely and help their workers.
SCV businesses receive COVID-19 relief grants
Here in the SCV, a number of businesses and nonprofits have applied for and received grants of $15,000 each through the L.A. Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund.
Of those was Justine Belyeu, owner of Black Hair Care by Justine, who before receiving the grant, was anxious, unsure how she’d pay the bills with no income.
“Applying was pretty simple … (and) straightforward — it was the waiting and the anticipation of each month, hoping you made each round (that was difficult),” she said. “I was so grateful when I finally got the approval notice. I was able to keep my bills current because of it.”
With the grant, Belyeu was able to cryogenic machine so she could expand the services her business offers.
Through it all, it was the community of salons and barbershops Belyeu is a part of that have helped to keep each other’s businesses alive, she said.
“It’s all about community,” she added. “We’re just a small piece of this community, but we’re all able to not just survive, but thrive. It’s been a blessing.”
Local Realtor Denise Mitchell found the grant when all else had failed, she said, adding she used the grant to help her hire a marketing team to build a website and help her with online marketing.
“This was very helpful to me as there was no way during the pandemic that I could have continued on this successful path,” Mitchell said. “I’m very excited to launch it all very soon and have an online presence. Being a single mom and sole supporter of her in my home, and needing to be with her more and helping her with school, this is going to greatly help me stay on top of my game. This was easier than any other assistance I received.”
Family Promise of SCV’s work to connect homeless individuals with shelter through partnerships with local churches and synagogues came to a complete standstill when the pandemic hit.
The organization had to pivot, instead sheltering families and pregnant women in motels before the organization purchased a transitional house in July with the help of donors, according to Roché Vermaak, executive director.
“(The grant) made a tremendous difference in our ability to continue to shelter homeless families in motels and in our transitional house and to provide ongoing case management assisting families to find employment and/or housing and connecting them to agencies to find social services and benefits, physical and mental health, child care and permanent housing,” Vermaak said.