Pressure from some business owners along the three routes all currently under construction for Metro rail line expansion has led the Metro Transit Board to approve $10 million in reimbursements for lost revenue, calling it the "Business Interruption Fund."
"While we may be doing a great job constructing a transportation system for our people, we don't want the byproduct to be small businesses that have been there for a long time to be closed up and gone," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
He, along with Metro Board members and LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas delivered the first four checks totaling $66,310 to small business owners impacted by the construction of the expanding Metro Rail system.
"It's an advantage to be able to receive the funds to be able to get back on my feet and get going again," said Design Studio 27 salon owner Marilyn Brown. "It will help me to recoup some of the funds I took from my savings and other places, I depleted by accounts basically trying to stay in business."
After 30 years on Crenshaw Boulevard, Brown says she had to cut her losses and shut down just three weeks ago, two weeks shy of being awarded $10,000 after she applied for funds to help her struggling business. She points to the construction you can still see along Crenshaw and says because the fencing and giant green tarps covered much of the businesses, she lost customers.
"This is what put me out of business," she said.
Garcetti says more than a thousand businesses are likely eligible if they can prove their loss of revenue is a direct result of the ongoing construction. Each business owner with 25 or less employees is eligible for up to $50,000 in the grant money for businesses affected by the Crenshaw-LAX line, the Little Tokyo Connector line and the Purple Line expansion.
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Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said small business is the backbone of the LA economy and that the move to reimburse business owners is to help them avoid "breaking their backs."
The new Metro lines are expected to reach completion by 2021.