Metro’s Business Interruption Fund was started to assist small businesses that may be impacted by construction of Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX line, the Little Tokyo area along the Regional Connector and Phase I of the Purple Line Extension.
More than $1 million in grants have been awarded since the first checks were distributed to qualifying merchants in April. The fund aims to provide assistance so that affected businesses can remain open throughout construction and realize the benefits of the new rail lines once completed.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll be spotlighting a few of the businesses and their owners that have received assistance from the fund.
Eddie Varela and Ricardo Velasquez established Pro Image Sports in June 2009 in the Crenshaw Baldwin Hills Mall. Their store specializes in the retail sales of sports products including hats, beanies, jerseys, socks and other athletic apparel.
Friends since high school, Eddie and Ricardo shared a passion for sports. Eddie went on to work for the Utah Jazz for nine years and the experience sparked an interest in sports apparel. Eddie contacted Ricardo with the idea to start a sports apparel franchise incorporating their lifelong passion of sports into a business. Ricardo was in, and they opened up Pro Image Sports inside the mall they grew up going to.
They’ve referred to the assistance they’ve received from the Business Interruption Fund a “blessing in disguise.” Six years since they opened, the duo takes pride in keeping their store at the forefront of the licensed sports apparel industry.
To learn more about Metro’s Business Improvement Fund or how to apply for a grant, visit the Pacific Coast Regional Small Business Development Corp (PCR).
Previous spotlights: Southern Girl Desserts, Sense Fashion, Lula Washington Dance Company, Maurice Guillmeno.