LA MESA, Calif. — Hopeful entrepreneurs in La Mesa could get thousands of dollars to open up a business there.

The city wants to make use of vacant buildings, so they launched the La Mesa Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program (LEAP) to give them up to $20,000, and also educate them on how to be successful. The city said they want to be a bridge to help people.

“The city doesn’t open businesses but we can help create a pathway,” said La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis.

The mayor said La Mesa is aiming to create access for potential business owners. The city is using funds they received from the American Rescue Plan to fund LEAP, a business start-up training program.

The program will be for new independent businesses. The city is looking for retailers and restaurants, not office spaces or big chain companies.

“What we are hoping for people that are trying to take a risk and open a business,” Arapostathis said.

Interested people will be required to take classes before they can get funding. The city is partnering with the East County Economic Development Council, which will teach courses on business fundamentals. These courses will include material such as advertisement, staffing, finances, etc.

Once the courses are completed, and a person is certified through the Small Business Development Council, that person will be eligible to receive up to $20,000 from LEAP.

“Anything the city can do to promote businesses is a great thing,” said Scott Chiv, the owner of the new Boss Bird Kitchen in downtown La Mesa.

Boss Bird Kitchen is a fourth month-old restaurant in downtown La Mesa. Chiv said that having funding for a business is crucial, and that underfunding is a problem many new owners run into.

“That runway needs to be big, just so you can allow yourself to make mistakes, because we all make mistakes,”Chiv said.

Even when the money is there, Chiv said opening a business takes passion, patience and commitment, among many other things.

“Stay positive, it’s not always going to be a good day … it’s not always going to be a good week, but I truly believe if you keep at it, you’ll make it. And try to do it your way,” Chiv said.

However most of all, a support system helps new businesses. Chiv said his wife, kids, employees and customers are to thank for his success.

“It’s not the easiest way to make money opening your own business, but its very rewarding. And I would encourage anybody to try to just understand that is will not always be fun, but the payoff is huge,” Chiv said.

Click here for the application process.