With so many businesses reeling from the pandemic, a pilot program funded by the city of La Mesa that’s geared to help boost business is getting a new lease on life.
NBC 7 first told you about the city’s Village Enhancement Fund two years ago. But now while some are singing its praises, not all businesses feel it’s a boon.
The fund will use more than $47,000 in parking meter revenues to help create fun events in La Mesa Village, hoping to draw people to area businesses to spend money.
From the fiery riot in the city that destroyed and damaged businesses last May to the pandemic restrictions, Maxwell's House of Books owner Craig Maxwell will tell you: it's been a tough year-and-a-half for some neighboring business owners.
"Those that rely entirely on walk-in business have been hanging by their fingernails," said Maxwell.
Hoping to help, on May 25, La Mesa City Council renewed its Village Enhancement Fund for a second year.
The vote made thousands of dollars available for La Mesa businesses and nonprofits to apply for and create new events, or fund old ones like the classic car show and Holiday in the Village, put on by the La Mesa Village Association.
“Any money we recoup from the city rolls into newer, bigger and better events in the city and to help the restaurants. Especially in the recovery time after COVID-19," said Wes Troy, Co-Chair of the La Mesa Village Association.
The staff report on the Village Enhancement Fund admits pandemic restrictions leading to the cancelation of last year's classic car show and forcing Oktoberfest to move online made evaluating the fund difficult.
But it shows restaurants reported increased business while retail feedback was mixed.
When asked if the events were a boon for his book store, Maxwell said, “Not so much. Christmas In the Village is. Oktoberfest, not so much."
After nearly 20 years of operating a business in the village, Maxwell said he can appreciate the enhancement funds spent on streetlight banners promoting businesses.
But he said as pandemic restrictions allow businesses to fully open up, it's better for events to stay out of the way.
“More than anything, just clearing a way on the boulevard so that customers have access to the stores. And allowing some of the policies that help businesses, especially restaurants and bars utilize the sidewalks and other areas of business, to continue," said Maxwell.
Wes Troy understands the business concerns since he owns La Mesa Lumber and Hardware. He said as co-chair of the La Mesa Village Association they’re focused on smart reopening.
“Our idea is not to all of a sudden just open it up, but we do want to make sure we’re doing all we can to support the local businesses and to make sure we don’t lose anymore because of COVID."
The city of La Mesa will begin accepting applications June 1 from organizations or businesses in the area. The deadline to apply is June 30.
For information about the La Mesa Village Enhancement Fund Program, contact Lyn Dedmon, Senior Management Analyst, at (619) 667-1339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.