More than a dozen businesses launching in La Mesa under new program funded by federal relief money


Peter Spiller made his first journal cover a few years back.

He was soon spending more time in the garage, turning strips of leather and waxed canvas into bags, card holders, the works.

But until enrolling in a new East County program, the art teacher wasn’t sure how to turn those products into a long-term money maker.

“I know how to think as an artist, I know how to teach people about how to think as an artist,” said Spiller, who works at Grossmont High School. “But as a business person, it really changed my art into a viable business.”

Spiller is one of 14 people enrolled in the La Mesa Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program, known as LEAP, which launched last summer to reduce the number of vacant storefronts in the city. Participants can earn up to $20,000 in grants after the City Council set aside hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal relief funds.

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