LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Small businesses throughout Los Angeles have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city of Los Angeles is working to help them survive and compete with larger companies by boosting their online profile.
The city last year launched LA Optimized, which aims to help small businesses adapt to rapidly changing consumer behavior and technological advances. Priority will be given to brick-and-mortar establishments in low income communities with a goal of helping 1,000 local small businesses develop a clear online strategy.
What was once an option - a digital solution to market and grow a business - is now required to survive.
"It doesn't matter where a customer is looking for that small business, they will be able to find them online," said Roberto Martinez with LA Optimized. "And that's really what the name of the game is here."
Examples of small businesses that could be helped by the program can be found all along the city's historic Olvera Street.
Gregory Berber, owner of the restaurant La Luz Del Dia, said he expects to improve his business with help from the program.
"I think my website can benefit from L.A. Optimized in terms of telling a better story instead of being so fragmented in what it is currently," Berber said.
Consumer interaction is estimated to be 60% online and 40% offline, so for the businesses who qualify, LA Optimized will also help design and create a website for the roughly 36% without one.
In 2020, California's small business revenue dropped by 29.3% and a September 2020 report found Los Angeles has seen 15,000 closures, half of which are permanent. LA Optimized wants to slow that trend by creating a sustainable online business future across Los Angeles - and certainly Olvera Street.
"Hopefully this will be a partnership where it can help the entire street as a whole and have everyone survive through this pandemic," Berber said.