On Aug. 10 the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce opened applications for monetary relief for La Mesa businesses damaged by looting and rioting following a protest calling for police reform and social justice in late May.
Chamber CEO Mary England said while she has been busy helping the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce Foundation deliver checks to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in East County, she was moved when businesses, organizations and people began donating money directly to the Chamber to help local La Mesa businesses.
England said it started with a generous donation from Randall Lamb Associates, which was followed with donations from other businesses, organizations and residents.
“A couple of businesses like the Rotary and Randall Lamb said they wanted to donate locally and wanted to give directly to the Chamber for distribution,” said England. “This happened about the first week in June while we were still repairing the damages.”
England said the Chamber has not been actively soliciting for this fund, not wanting to compete with the foundation because the Chamber helped in raising that money, but the money has come in from people who are passionate about La Mesa and wanted to help.
“We have all been working on the GoFundMe donations under the foundation which has raised well more than $200,000. Some people said that was great and they liked funds going to El Cajon. I told them we had to make a process, so we started to develop an application process.”
Randall Lamb was the first to contact the Chamber about funding La Mesa businesses, said England.
“Do you know how overwhelming that is that a business that was destroyed, burned to the ground, not rebuilding in La Mesa?” said England. “I had tears in my eyes. The smoke was still burning at the banks and stuff. We still had a couple of small fires going on. We are so grateful.”
England said this demonstrates the compassion and the heart of La Mesa. She said some businesses are heavily damaged and still not open from the civil unrest.
“The La Mesa business community is still not 100 percent back,” said England. “As of Aug. 10, the Chamber has been given $14,325, without even asking for it. It has just come from the generosity of these businesses and organizations. Other businesses are now calling me asking how to donate to this fund.”
England said many thought La Mesa Village took the biggest hit, but there was also Grossmont Center. The biggest hit was at La Mesa Springs Shopping Center.
England said that due to the money coming in, she had to make a process and wanted to wait until the Foundation’s GoFundMe funds were distributed. She said the last of the checks were being delivered Aug. 12, so it was time to launch the Chamber’s application process.
Business owners can now apply online at https://tinurl.com/lmbusinessassistancefund or call the office to request an application form. Applications can be emailed to the Chamber at email@example.com. The timeline to apply ends on Aug. 31.