Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday introduced LA Optimized, an initiative to help local small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding their e-commerce capabilities and increasing their online presence.
“COVID-19 has changed everything, the way we communicate, work, socialize and shop, and our physical stores need to quickly rethink how they reach their customers, market their products, sell their products, and prosper when so much business is happening in line, ”Garcetti said.
LA Optimized is designed to help small businesses adapt to rapid changes in consumer behavior and technological advancements by boosting their digital marketing, maximizing their online business listings, creating or optimizing their websites, and increasing their awareness and presence. in the e-commerce space.
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"Our small businesses are the backbone of our economic strength, and LA Optimized leverages the power of partnerships to equip local businesses with a larger digital footprint and the tools they need to gain a competitive advantage and lead our pandemic recovery," Garcetti said.
LA Optimized will be overseen by Mayor Roberto Martinez's newly appointed 2021 Resident Entrepreneur, who brings more than 15 years of experience and expertise to the effort, Garcetti said.
The program will be provided at no cost to businesses, with the help of partner organizations. The mayor's office plans to allocate about $1.5 million to provide the services.
As part of the program, the city will also partner with ArtCenter College of Design and Verynice, a Los Angeles-based design strategy practice, to assist “creative professionals,” who will receive $500 in business and digital content services that include branding, video, photography, and graphic design.
Up to 1,000 small businesses will be able to access LA Optimized in the first year of the program.
Although the pandemic accelerated the increase in online sales this year, small and medium-sized businesses have long faced digital challenges to compete with larger corporations, Garcetti said.
This year, California small business revenue is down 29.3%, according to Opportunity Insights, an economic indicator tracker based at Harvard University.
Garcetti said another report in September found that Los Angeles has seen 1,000 deals closed, half of which are permanent closings. LA Optimized will be open to small businesses active in the city of Los Angeles, with priority for traditional establishments located in or serving low-income neighborhoods.
Companies can now enroll at Coronavirus.LACity.org/LAOptimized, and qualified companies will be selected starting in January 2021.