Earlier today, Metro presented a check to KC Stylist, a small business in Little Tokyo, as part of the Metro Business Interruption Fund (BIF) for small businesses owners near the Regional Connector project.
The BIF is a pilot program that started in Feb. 2015. The program has awarded 135 grants exceeding a total of $2.5 million to small businesses directly impacted by construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Purple Line Extension Section 1 and the Regional Connector’s Little Tokyo station.
“Metro’s pilot Business Interruption Fund helps small ‘mom and pop’ businesses along the alignment of our mega rail construction projects. These small businesses are the backbone of our community and have had to endure traffic, noise, dust and other impacts. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we want to make sure these small businesses can persevere through the construction period, in order to ultimately benefit from this transit revolution in the long term,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas.
One of the first grants in the Little Tokyo area of the Regional Connector Transit Project was awarded to KC Stylist, located at 706 E. 1st Street, where construction activities have been ongoing since the beginning of this year. The beauty school and salon, which specializes in hair care and cosmetics, is owned by Yuko and Glen Koach. Prior to moving to the United States in 2001, Yuko was a licensed stylist in Japan.
“Local businesses are the lifeline of our local communities. Since construction began on the Regional Connector Transit Project, our Little Tokyo small businesses have been asked to work though significant disruptions to their daily operations,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Hilda Solis. “The awarding of the first grants to Little Tokyo businesses represents a significant and well-deserved investment in the Little Tokyo community. It demonstrates Metro’s commitment to helping local small businesses survive, and be ready to thrive when the Regional Connector is opened.”
“Metro’s Business Interruption Fund pilot program breaks new ground for public construction projects by providing small businesses a vital mitigation that helps them stay open during the hardship of construction,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Director Michael Antonovich.
Keeping with Metro’s commitment to support small businesses, the agency has awarded the first series of BIF grants in the Little Tokyo area to Chado Tea Room, KC Stylist, Kato’s Sewing Machine Company, NT Auto Repair, an independently owned and operated Quiznos, Little Tokyo Car Wash, and Akimoto Chiropractic.
“As we strive to achieve a world class transit system for Los Angeles County, we take great pride in ensuring that our small business communities, which are vital to the city’s local economy, are supported throughout the transformation. Metro’s Business Interruption Fund is a key program in ensuring our businesses withstand not only direct construction impacts but also sustain to reap the economic benefits that public transportation brings to local economies,” said Metro Board Director Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker.
Metro foresees an increased number of grant awards as construction progresses within the Little Tokyo area including the 2nd/Broadway segment of the Regional Connector.
In effort to increase awareness of the program, Metro will continue to conduct direct program outreach activities such as the recurring BIF workshop series. Small “mom and pop” businesses in the Little Tokyo area are encouraged to attend the upcoming BIF workshop at the Miyako Hotel, located at 328 E. 1st Street, on April 13 at 3 p.m. to learn about the program requirements and application process. Japanese translation services will be available.
“Metro is committed to helping small businesses succeed, whether that be ensuring that they have opportunities to work on our projects and programs, or minimizing impacts to businesses in our transit corridors during the construction of those projects,” said Metro CEO Phil Washington.
Per the guidelines of the BIF program businesses directly impacted by Metro rail construction can receive more than one BIF grant award yet cannot exceed $50,000 annually or 60 percent of annual business revenue losses. The program is being administered by PCR, a small business development corporation and a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with more than 30 years of financial services experience.
Who can apply for finance assistance?
Qualifying businesses are those with: at least two years of continuous operating history; 25 or fewer total employees; in good standing with local, state and federal taxing and licensing authorities, and; those able to produce relevant financial records (e.g. gross receipts, payroll taxes, bank statements or other financial information) demonstrating a loss of business revenue directly related to the period of construction disruption. It must be noted that BIF financial assistance is only available for those businesses impacted by these three rail construction projects. Businesses located along any of Metro’s other lines do not qualify.
How to apply for financial assistance:
All small mom and pop business owners directly impacted by any of the eligible rail construction projects are encouraged to visit PCR at pcrcorp.org or call Angela Winston at (213) 739-2999, extension 223, to learn how to apply and to make an appointment with a BIF business advisor.
Metro has launched the Business Assistance Center serving Little Tokyo, which is operated by the Asian Pacific Islander-Small Business Program (API-SBP), located at Metro’s Regional Connector Little Tokyo Community Office, 360 E. 1st Street. The Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project Business Solution Center (BSC) is co-located at the Los Angeles Urban League at 3450 Mount Vernon Street.
Additionally, the promotional campaign Eat, Shop, Play program encourages residents to pledge to shop locally and win cash prizes of up to $1,000. Metro is also promoting business through its “Open for Business” video series, featuring businesses along the future rail alignments.
The 1.9-mile Regional Connector Transit Project is a $1.5-billion underground rail tunnel that will connect the Blue, Gold and Expo Lines in downtown Los Angeles and will allow for faster trips to and through downtown. The Connector project will include three stations to serve the entire region. It is expected to open in 2020.