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L.A. Mayor Bass and SBA Administrator Announce Women’s Business Center in South LA

Bo Tefu, Lila Brown, and Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabel Guzman joined hands last week to launch the first federally recognized Women’s Business Center at the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC) in South Los Angeles to help small businesses start, grow and develop in the city.

Bass highlighted the partnership Los Angeles has with the federal government and emphasized her administration’s work to open Los Angeles for business by making more resources like the new Women’s Business Center offers available to more Angelenos.

“This beautifully renovated building will provide a dedicated space for business experts and consultants to meet one-on-one with entrepreneurs and small business owners to help their business launch, grow, and thrive,” said Mayor Bass during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. She reminded guests that not only the Olympics, but another Super Bowl and All-Star Week is coming to the city and local business owners should be prepared for the opportunities that lie ahead.

“As the business center develops, we need to partner with organizations like Vermont Slauson to make sure that these events don’t just come to LA and pass us by, but that these events help serve as a catalyst so that our small businesses become larger businesses and everyone in the area prospers from the world coming to this center,” said Bass.

The official opening was among initiatives the mayor led this week to support businesses in Los Angeles through LA Optimized 2.0, a program created to help small businesses build and strengthen their digital presence along with LApreneur, a new online learning platform created to equip entrepreneurs with key skills and information to succeed.

Bass also encouraged residents, small business owners, and other residents who were impacted to apply for the low-interest disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration that were recently made available following Mayor Bass’ calls for federal support.

“We are committed to investing in women through our Women’s Business Centers, where knowledge and connections to capital can be deployed to power that next generation of founders, said SBA Administrator Guzman following remarks from Mayor Bass. 

“The SBA is committed to making sure that they have the funding that they need. We have instituted transformations across our policy, loan, investment, and bonding programs to ensure that the $52 billion that’s put out from SBA every year goes to the people who are starting businesses at the highest rates and that our check writers look like the businesses who are starting businesses at the highest rates. We’ve seen a 70% increase in our lending to women.”

“When women-owned businesses succeed, our economy succeeds,” stated U.S. Congressmember Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA-37) in a press release following the event.

“I am thrilled to celebrate the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation’s launch of its Women’s Business Center, located here in South LA, which will support women entrepreneurs throughout every step of their business journey,” she added.

The South LA Women’s Business Center (WBC) is the first women’s business center in South LA and Watts. It will offer support to Black and Latino women entrepreneurs.

Marva Smith Battle-Bey founded VSEDC and led the organization for 35 years before her passing in 2016.

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