Hello fellow VEDC board members,
Last week I had an opportunity to visit the Watts Entrepreneur Business Accelerator (WEBA) as a guest of Adrian Veliz, who is the project manager for this community program and the South Los Angeles area. As a board member, this visit was an opportunity to see VEDC’s operations from its most impactful vantage point: through the eyes of our clients and a community that can greatly benefit from our economic development programs.
Adrian and I briefly visited a local food stand owner who is bringing healthy foods to the community. This particular entrepreneur had a previous loan from a predatory lender who charged him extremely high interest, and the VEDC was able to step in and fix the problem with a better loan and much more reasonable terms. Our second visit was to a woman-owned business focused on tire recycling. Two months ago, she was in a very difficult position with her business, and Adrian was able to help her though an intense regulatory process so that she could keep her business afloat with renewed energy. She is now a client of VEDC. I met a third entrepreneur over the phone, who owns an interesting baby blanket manufacturing company. Her story was truly inspirational, and it was obvious that both Adrian and VEDC are playing an important role in her personal life and in the life of her business. I also received an informative tour of Watts and some local history from Adrian.
In my opinion, the importance of this visit was significant. As board members, we spend most of our time supporting management with the running of the organization. While this continues to be our focus (and it is an extremely important focus), I have to share that my enthusiasm has been renewed– I could see, first hand, the impact we make on the community and the people and businesses who need us. I suggested to my fellow board members that we may wish, from time to time, to schedule board meetings in some of our clients’ communities. WEBA is a good example, located at the Macedonia Baptist Church, with ample meeting space and good parking availability. We may also wish to invite clients to our board meetings for brief updates on their businesses and to learn more about the direct impact we make. The long-term sustainability of VEDC in communities who desperately need us is a top priority, and one for which we are all proud and excited.
Looking ahead to the success of even more small businesses and for the continuing opportunity to work and to meet such interesting community and business leaders.