City offering up to $20,000 to help ‘legacy businesses’

By Ray Richardson

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — Small businesses in Los Angeles that have served communities for at least 20 years are applying for the city’s new Legacy Business Program, an initiative that could offer as much as $20,000 in grants to owners needing a boost in revenue and resources.

“I was ecstatic when I heard about this,” said Jeanette Bolden, owner of 27th Street Bakery, a family business in operation since 1950. “We’re in survival mode. It’s wonderful to hear someone has recognized the plight of small businesses.”

Ninth District Councilman Curren Price proposed the Legacy Business program to the City Council in 2019. Funding was formally approved in mid-February, giving businesses the opportunity to apply.

Price’s office is working with the city’s Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD) to implement the program, which is expected to start disbursing funds in the fall to qualified businesses. 

The Economic and Workforce Development Department is handling the application process. Businesses can go online to apply at An EWDD spokesperson said there is no deadline to apply.

“We’re getting great response already,” Price told The Wave. “It’s a first-time effort. Hope to expand it. For businesses to be around for 20 years or more says a lot. They deserve to be recognized.”

In addition to the financial benefit, Legacy Business grant recipients also will get assistance with technical and Internet support, marketing, legal consultations, governmental access and other services.

The main criteria for businesses is longevity. Price said the Legacy Business program was designed to honor and support small businesses, many of them family-owned, for their many years of service.

Bolden is a third-generation family member running the 27th Street Bakery. She took over the bakery in 2008 after the death of her grandparents, who started the business in 1950 when they arrived in Los Angeles from Louisiana.

Bolden has started the application process for one of the grants. She stressed how valuable a grant would be for the bakery. Bolden employs a staff of nine to 14 depending on the time of year and volume of orders.

27th Street Bakery sells items on location, but Bolden said a majority of her business comes from supplying 21 grocery stores and smaller shops in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Compton and Pasadena.

“Inflation on supply costs and supply chain shortages make you have to pivot a lot,” Bolden said. “You don’t want to charge your clients more, so we end up absorbing a lot of the extra costs.”

Vivian Bowers, owner of Bowers & Sons Cleaners in South Los Angeles, is in a similar situation. Bowers and her husband, Greg, have been overseeing a family business that opened its doors 74 years ago. Her father, Horace, bought the cleaners from her grandparents in 1950 for $600.

When Horace wanted to close the cleaners down in 1994, Bowers and her husband stepped in.

“It’s a real credit to businesses for being able to survive 20 years and longer,” Price said.

Bowers & Sons Cleaners and 27th Street Bakery are the type of businesses Price had in mind when he introduced the Legacy Business concept. Bowers said she’s in the process of completing her paperwork.

“I would like to increase the salaries of our employees to make sure they go beyond a living wage,” Bowers said. “The average employment time with us is 15 years. We have one employee who’s been with us 20 years.”

Keeping pace with technology and the digital age is also a priority for Bowers. Bowers said a grant would help the business improve its notification process to customers. In this day and age of instant alerts on cell phones and other mobile devices, Bowers believes today’s form of communication applies to the dry cleaning business as well.

“We would like to become more user-friendly,” Bowers said. “We want to be able to notify a customer when their clothes are ready for pickup, or if there’s a problem with an item before we clean it. These are services we would like to expand.”

Price said the Legacy Business program also would help small business avoid being displaced.

“The threat of displacement faced by small businesses is compounded by the lack of protections, which disrupts the fabric of neighborhoods and erases the essence of our city’s identity,” he said in a statement announcing the program.

“Gentrification poses a threat to not only renters but also to our beloved neighborhood small businesses that are institutions in our communities.” 

Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at