LOS ANGELES — It’s been almost three years since COVID-19 began to wreak havoc on local businesses. Still, many of them are reeling from the effects of government-mandated shutdowns, worker shortages and, more recently, inflation. 

Now many of LA’s small and micro businesses can receive help from the Los Angeles County Department of Economic Opportunity, which has started to roll out its Economic Opportunity Grant program to organizations that were negatively affected by the pandemic. The agency will provide more than $54 million in grants to 6,800 small businesses and nonprofit agencies in amounts of $2,500 to $25,000.

“Through no fault of their own, small businesses and microbusinesses were devastated during the pandemic and many continue to struggle to recover,” LA County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn said in a statement. “With these grants, we are going to shore up these businesses, preserve what these small business owners have worked so hard to build and save jobs in our communities.”

More than 90% of businesses in LA County have fewer than 20 employees, and many of them are run by women and people of color who often lack access to capital, according to the department. The grants are made possible with funds provided through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

While the first phase of the program began Jan. 26, offering grants of $2,500 to businesses that make less than $50,000 in annual gross revenue, the second phase begins Feb. 23 and will provide grants of $15,000 to $20,000 for small businesses and grants of $20,000 to $25,000 to nonprofits.    

Interested organizations can apply for the grants on a dedicated LA County website that also offers instructional videos on how to apply, as well as access to one-on-one application support. The grant applications will be available through May or until the funds are depleted. Grant awardees will be notified within 30 days of applying.