County Board of Supervisors approve $10M grant program for closed breweries, small businesses

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $10 million grant program that will provide relief toward breweries and other small businesses.

Breweries, despite having the ability to open with the state health mandate under certain restrictions, cannot do so within Los Angeles County because the county’s own health order, which is stricter than the state’s version, overrides it. It’s been more than 175 days since breweries were shut down and many throughout the county have disproportionately felt the economic effects of the pandemic.

“I have heard from so many local breweries that are struggling to stay in business while following the County’s health order,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who led the motion to create the program. “With our case numbers on the decline, I am hopeful it will be safe for them to fully reopen soon. But in the meantime, I want to get them the lifeline they need to make it through this crisis.”

According to Liz Odendahl of Hahn’s staff, Hahn’s office was overwhelmed with calls from breweries, leading to the creation of the program. On top of breweries, wineries, family entertainment centers and card rooms are also eligible to apply as long as they qualify as a small business.

As to how much a business can apply for and how that amount will be determined—be it through the number of employees, amount of product produced, or other factors—has yet to be determined, Odendahl said.

The move follows a recent push from the regional beer community to amp up their political voice. Powerful coalitions like the L.A. Brewers’ Guild, a 90-plus brewery member organization, began an effort to showcase that they are not only responsible operators but, unlike bars that have led a separate effort to reopen, they are family-oriented spaces.

“This passage of funding that includes breweries is a much-needed step in the right direction,” said Frances Lopez, executive director of the guild. “However, this is merely a temporary band-aid and our businesses will continue to bleed-out unless more sustainable, long-term measures are in place.”

For Lopez—garnering support from brewery owners Sterling and Ilana Steffen of Trademark as well as the three-man crew at Ambitious Ales—it is still paramount that local breweries be permitted to reopen their tasting rooms like the rest of the breweries across the state.

The grant program is part of a supplemental coronavirus relief fund spending plan being considered by the Board of Supervisors. The funding comes from CARES Act funding allocated to Los Angeles County by the federal government.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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