About Together for LA:
Together for LA is a strategic partnership to strengthen and support women and diverse-owned small businesses in LA County, as they strive to recover from the economic crisis wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. No cost technical assistance and connections to small business resources are made available through a generous grant from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund.
Together for LA partners include Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Los Angeles (LISC LA), The Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, The Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County; who are working together to advance a more equitable, sustainable and resilient economic recovery.
Together for LA is doing this work in recognition of the fact that Los Angeles County is home to more than 1.3 million small businesses, including more women and BIPOC owned small businesses than any other county in the nation. These employer and non-employer establishments provide the majority of jobs and income for the ten million residents of America’s most populous and diverse county and tens of thousands of these enterprises remain at significant risk due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic. As of March 2021, small business revenues in LA County are still down by more than 30%. The Together for LA collaborative is committed to working as a combined force to advance a more equitable economic recovery.
Please click each organization’s name below to connect directly with each partner and learn about small business resources and programs.
Small Business Services:
Complete business intake form for complimentary and confidential small business assistance consulting.
- Workforce Development. Hiring, Training and Retaining Staff
- Layoff Aversion
- Site Selection & Relocation. Permitting Assistance/Expediting
- Tax Incentives
- Financing Resources. Access to Capital. Grant & Loan Opportunities/Application Assistance
- Cost Containment Strategies
- Energy Efficiencies, Utility Incentives & Programs
- Programs for Manufacturers
- Economic Data, Analysis & Outlooks
- Safety and Re-opening Resources, Guides & Collateral
- Procurement Opportunities
- Disaster/Emergency Preparedness, Recovery & Resilience
- Health & Wellness Small Business Support
- Minority Asset Building
Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund – 2021 Los Angeles Community Champions
Across Los Angeles County, thousands of diverse small businesses are recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the capital, technical support and long-term resiliency programs provided through the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund, many of LA’s small enterprises have kept their doors open, retained employees and rebuilt.
Additionally, many of these businesses have helped lead and support their community through the pandemic’s many challenges. From distributing groceries to food-insecure families to serving as COVID-19 vaccine ambassadors to teaching other entrepreneurs how to pivot their businesses, many have gone above and beyond to support one another.
To recognize and honor these outstanding local small businesses, Wells Fargo, with Together for LA, has created the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund 2021 Los Angeles Community Champion program.
Over the next several weeks, Together for LA partners will be celebrating the champions below and sharing their stories of resilience.
Based in South Central Los Angeles, The Plant Plug is an organic gardening and botany education business. Owner Taylor Harrison provides workshops at local schools on how equity can be achieved through agriculture while also teaching fellow small business owners about financial literacy for free. Their goal is to teach other aspiring entrepreneurs how valuable their skills, goods and services are, and how a hobby can sprout into a successful business.
As a woman-owned courier service based in El Segundo, PearlTrans Logistics stepped up during the COVID-19 crisis to support healthcare workers. Inspired by a client’s donation of meals to essential workers at UCLA Medical Center’s Emergency Room, CEO and Founder Lorena Carmargo provided free delivery services within a 25-mile radius for anyone donating meals to those fighting at the frontlines of the pandemic.
Patty Archuleta has been a clothing street vendor on 31st and San Pedro St. for six years – & in that time, she has stepped up to become a lead organizer for the nearly 100 street vendors on her corridor. After recovering from her own life-threatening battle with COVID-19 last year, Patty continues to be a leader in her community by helping fellow street vendors apply for financial assistance, navigate permitting & overcome technical barriers to aid programs.
As a family-owned business in Boyle Heights, Emma’s Meat Market strives to provide accessible healthy and fresh food to the community. After seeing many customers struggle to afford food during the pandemic, owners Juan and Irene Vazquez organized a food distribution event, providing over 200 boxes of groceries and produce to individuals and families impacted by COVID-19.
Miguel Angel Alfaro opened Mi Lindo Guanajuato Restaurant in Boyle Heights just two weeks before the pandemic struck. With help from the Open for Business Fund, Miguel was able to keep the doors open and at the same time help his community stay healthy. Miguel stepped up as a COVID –19 Vaccine Ambassador, distributing information to customers in Spanish and English about vaccine safety and efficacy and ways to schedule an appointment.
As a woman-owned experience and event management agency in Pasadena, Innovate Marketing Group faced massive disruptions to the events industry from COVID-19. While adapting to provide virtual events for the first time, CEO and Founder Amanda Ma held free webinars to teach other small business owners and non-profits how to pivot in a virtual world and educate on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
Together for LA Partners:
Together for LA Launch Event Recap, July 27, 2021
The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) and Together for LA collaborative partners celebrated the launch of the Together for LA program on July 27th – a strategic partnership to strengthen and support women and diverse-owned small businesses in Los Angeles County, as they strive to recover from the economic crisis wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. No cost technical assistance and connections to small business resources are made available through a generous grant from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund.
Together for L.A. partners include LAEDC, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Los Angeles (LISC LA), The Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, The Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), and City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, who are working together to advance a more equitable, sustainable and resilient economic recovery.
Bill Allen, President and CEO of LAEDC welcomed attendees, partners and gave special recognition and thanks to program sponsor, Wells Fargo. “This work is critical in Los Angeles County as we are home to more than 1 million small businesses, more than any other county in the nation. And the vast majority of these enterprises are owned by women and people of color. They are responsible for most of the growth in jobs in our region and for creating wealth in our communities. And they’ve also been the hardest hit by the pandemic. They continue to suffer disproportionately during this ongoing but still uneven recovery phase,” Bill shared.
Luis Gonzales, Vice President of Social Impact and Sustainability of Wells Fargo and Company congratulated the Open for Business Fund grant recipients and stressed the importance of investing in and supporting our small business communities as we recover from the pandemic, grow and move forward.
A video presentation showcased how each partner has committed to serving women owned and diverse owned businesses with curated programs and resources, followed by a dynamic panel discussion with partner representatives, moderated by Angela Amirkhanian, Together for LA Program Manager. Panelists were Jessica Ku Kim, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development from LAEDC; Maria S. Salinas, President and CEO of LA Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Lucy Jones, Founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society; Stephen C. Jordan, CEO of ISD; Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director of LISC LA; Carolyn Hull, General Manager of City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department; and Ernesto Bobadilla, Lead Program Manager, LA County Office of Small Business, Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.
Supervisor Hilda Solis delivered remarks on behalf of LA County and said, “small and diverse owned businesses and micro-enterprises are incredibly important to LA County’s economic and social fabric – and through this work, small businesses can learn about resources and programs available to them, find new sources of relief funding, learn new techniques to reinvent and recover, learn how to become a qualified County supplier, and overcome challenges experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Launch Event Video Recap
KPCC 89.3 Morning Edition Launch Event Coverage
Together for LA Initial Work, December 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has not only been a public health disaster, it has caused massive social and economic fallout throughout the United States and the rest of the world. The importance of small business to the region has been widely recognized by both the public and private sectors. Combined, local government, businesses, and community foundations have mobilized more than $204 million dollars toward COVID-19 small business relief efforts to date. This is the single largest metropolitan small business relief effort in the United States, followed by Chicago, New York, Miami, and Dallas.
Made possible thanks to the generous support of Wells Fargo, Together For LA: First Report on LA’s COVID-19 Small Business Response captures how this response has evolved, identifies key challenges, and provides insights and recommendations from a diverse range of small business owners and leading economic recovery assistance providers in Los Angeles. The report is authored by Institute for Sustainable Development.
Unemployment in LA County reached a high point of 21.1% in May with 716,000 jobs lost to date. As of October data, the unemployment rate had declined to 12.3 percent, a significant recovery, but still historically high. Much more needs to be done and the situation is tenuous for most small businesses in the region. Over 140,000 small businesses have applied for assistance to date in the LA region.
This report covers the challenges identified by public and private sector economic responders, and offers recommended next steps to increase the resilience of the small business community and the broader economy.
Together for LA Reports:
Press Release: Together for LA – Report on COVID-19 Economic Response Notes Unprecedented Efforts and Innovations
Report on how Business and Economic Development Leaders respond to this and future crisis.
Keven Chavez [email protected]
Leading organizations in Los Angeles call for additional collaboration –
LOS ANGELES – Dec. 9, 2020 – From the moment the first round of Safer at Home orders were announced in March 2020, Los Angeles business, civic, philanthropic and government leaders mobilized rapidly to save the county’s hundreds of thousands of small businesses, microenterprises and even community serving non-profits and their millions of employees from potential financial ruin. An initial study highlighting the unprecedented response, and noting the importance of communication, coordination and collaboration amongst these leading Los Angeles institutions to manage a crisis of this scale in the nation’s most populous county, has been compiled and released by Virgina-based Institute for Sustainable Development.
Together for LA: First Report on LA’s COVID-19 Small Business Response aims to spread best practices on what types of support are helping small businesses the most so that those best practices can be replicated and supported with further collaboration from the public and private sector.
The report finds that Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City, and leading economic and civic institutions have led the single largest metropolitan response in the country – awarding over $204 million in grants and loans to stabilize small businesses, micro-enterprises and nonprofits across the county. In addition, area responders have provided valuable technical assistance, training, capacity building, trouble-shooting and other valuable services to help thousands of small enterprises reinvent themselves to remain viable in the face of the pandemic.
“Small businesses have been very hard hit across the country because of COVID-19,” Stephen Jordan, CEO of Institute Sustainable Development (ISD) said, “While the challenges are massive, Los Angeles area economic responders have stepped up, and they are continuing to build important and valuable support systems that should help significantly in the tough months ahead.”
The report highlights key challenges affecting the response and recovery in the first eight months of the pandemic:
- The unemployment high point in L.A. County reached 21.1 percent in May and more than 715,000 jobs were lost to the pandemic at the peak. As of October, the unemployment rate is 12.3%, down an impressive 42% from the peak, but still historically high.
Further, the report offers key learnings for responding to the needs of small businesses in future crises:
- It is important to build on positive initiatives to strengthen trust-building, information sharing, communication, coordination, division of labor and resource mobilization among Los Angeles area economic recovery and resilience providers.
- You cannot talk about recovery, until you define stabilization and integrate science and technical best practices with emotional and social support.
- More real-time data capture and analytics capabilities need to be built to identify service deserts, track minority-owned business access to capital, services and procurement issues, and identify opportunities for enhanced provision of services to entrepreneurs in low and moderate income neighborhoods to help them survive such crises and reinvent themselves to become more resilient to such economic shocks in the future.
- Capacity-building needs to continue to take place at multiple levels, including working with community organizations working with minority business associations, Business Improvement Districts, and other neighborhood business groups.
- Capital assets and venture capital for minority, Black, and women-owned enterprises and for Latinx businesses need to continue to be developed – not just in terms of helping entrepreneurs and start-ups, but also helping small businesses to acquire technology and scale.
- Small business recovery and resilience service providers need to be sensitive about the user experience in working with them, especially for the many small businesses with minimal technology/internet skills. Tools that simplify and reduce frustration with the process like the development of a common application that can be used by multiple organizations would be very helpful.
“At Wells Fargo, we felt the need to support a report that would provide insight to key learnings to navigate a pandemic, especially for those businesses most adversely impacted,” said Gregg Sherkin, Senior Vice President Wells Fargo Social Impact & Sustainability. “With commitments to small businesses through our local foundation and the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund, we continue to provide valuable funding and other critical resources to support LA County business owners as they work to keep their doors open, retain employees and rebuild.”
“Federal programs like the PPP and SBA’s EIDL program were critical to helping our small businesses survive the pandemic but they didn’t go far enough to address our smallest businesses, especially those BIPOC and women-owned enterprises in our low-and-moderate income communities and that’s where our collective work focused in LA County,” said Bill Allen, CEO of LAEDC. “The need remains great across our region and we hope all levels of government and sectors of society will help us keep up the fight to bring the resources necessary for survival to our most vulnerable communities in the months and years ahead.”
“Understanding the science of a disaster, how it progresses and why human beings respond the way they do, allows leaders and local businesses to better manage its impacts,” said Dr. Lucy Jones, Founder and Chief Scientist of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society. “Understanding reduces fear and provides tools for a more effective response.”
“The pandemic has been the most challenging crisis to hit the country, state and region in recent times. The health and economic crises have revealed the disparities within our communities. In response, we have seen that the bold collaboration between public and private sectors has been instrumental in ensuring the survival of our micro and small businesses that fuel this economy. The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce has supported small businesses with much needed resources and information, including technical assistance support to access capital as they navigate this pandemic. We believe the cross-sector collaboration that developed this report should be used as a framework for other regions on how to effectively leverage systems and resources to address this pandemic and any future crisis,” stated Maria S. Salinas, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
“COVID-19 has shone a light on the lack of safety nets available for diverse, women and Black owned businesses. While Los Angeles has mobilized in response, providing critical financial relief to those impacted by the pandemic, it is clear that removing barriers to resources and providing access to capital will be the key drivers in sustaining and growing diverse businesses,” said Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director of Los Angeles Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LA LISC)
Community leaders say that small businesses are still suffering and under even further pressure from a new round of Safer at Home orders instituted in late November, and this work to help them react, reinvent and recover is likely to continue for the next twelve months, if not longer. Several initiatives are in process that build on the findings in this report.
More information can be found at TogetherForLA.org