LOS ANGELES— VEDC and Macedonia Community Development Corporation (Macedonia CDC) today announced the creation of the Watts Entrepreneur Business Accelerator (WEBA) to help businesses grow and create new full-time jobs in the economically distressed Watts community of Los Angeles.
By serving as a business expansion, professional meeting space and entrepreneur resource center, the new Watts business accelerator will promote economic opportunity and community revitalization. VEDC and Macedonia CDC will also provide technical assistance and coaching at WEBA to help businesses increase productivity and competitiveness, along with access to affordable financing through a $25 million loan fund.
Business loans through the fund will range from $35,000 to $250,000 through the African American Small Business Loan Program and a new Watts Microloan Program for loans from $1,000 to $50,000. Rather than using rigid credit guidelines, flexible eligibility criteria will address the unique credit, collateral, and cash flow situation of entrepreneurs. Small business owners will also receive guidance while applying for loans, along with finance, accounting technology, marketing, procurement, and other business assistance after the loan has been granted.
Combined, the Watts project will result in the creation of 40 new full-time jobs in the food services, manufacturing, and transportation industries. A minimum of 75 percent of the new jobs will go to low-income residents in the community where unemployment is nearly double that for the state of California, and the poverty rate tops 43 percent. The Watts initiative is clearly indicated as critical to the growth of local businesses in a recent survey. Ninety-five percent of business owners in Watts report that they do not know where to get business development services and 75 percent do not have access to capital.
“Difficulty in accessing business capital is a problem that reaches far beyond one entrepreneur’s dream. Small businesses are an essential component of thriving communities,” says Roberto Barragan, President and CEO, VEDC. “The establishment of the Watts Entrepreneur Business Accelerator in partnership with Macedonia CDC takes direct aim at the lack of employment opportunities in the area by working with local minority-owned businesses to create jobs that will make the community stronger.”
VEDC is the largest nonprofit business development corporation in metro Los Angeles and one of the largest in California, offering direct micro and small business loans and SBA 7(a) and SBA 504 loans. VEDC has over 40 years of experience in providing affordable business assistance services, direct financial assistance, entrepreneurial training, and economic development to individuals and businesses in South LA and throughout metro Los Angeles.
The Watts Entrepreneur Business Accelerator will be located at the Macedonia CDC located on the campus of the Macedonia Baptist Church, a historic African-American led place of worship, community facility, and gathering place. The Macedonia CDC is committed to transforming the Watts community from the fringes of marginalization into a vibrant, healthy community of productive citizens by addressing disparities in education, mental health, and economic opportunity.
“The approach that Macedonia CDC and VEDC employ recognizes that establishing a small business incubator and executing a few loans isn’t the goal. Rather, the measure of success for Watts will be when new businesses open and succeed, creating economic mobility for entrepreneurs, employees, and their families,” says Rev. Shane B. Scott, senior pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church and Chairman of the Macedonia CDC.
WEBA will be a critical resource for area businesses by allowing them to access meeting space and advanced business resources at no additional charge in a professional environment where they can conduct business-to-business interactions. The five initial growth-oriented businesses participating in the project – American Transportation Services, Lipstick Prophets, Uncle Darrow’s New Orleans Grill, Locale90, Peddler’s Creamery – are all either based in or conduct a sizeable percentage of their business in the Watts community.
The establishment of WEBA will provide a strategic home base for these businesses, and serve as an essential step to accelerating their respective business models and creating new jobs. In addition, the business acceleration technical assistance program at WEBA will offer business owners with access to free, high-level workshops related to business planning, growth, marketing, financing, and managing operational issues.
For more information about WEBA, please contact the Macedonia CDC at (323)569-9561, or visit vedc.org and MacedoniaCDC.org.
VEDC is a leading non-profit small business lender that has a 40 year history of changing the way small business lending is done by making it more available and impactful. With a growing footprint, VEDC has lent $400 million in direct and guaranteed loans to over 108,000 small businesses to create and retain more than 200,600 new jobs. VEDC’s mission, as a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), is to help create jobs and promote small business development in under-served communities. The organization provides loans and micro-financing options to small businesses, particularly those owned by women and minorities, that don’t qualify for traditional financing. VEDC’s expanding portfolio is composed of community-based loan funds in California, Illinois, Nevada, Utah, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida and New York. Learn more about VEDC services by visiting vedc.org.
Macedonia Community Development Corporation (MCDC) is committed to transforming the Watts community from the fringes of marginalization into a vibrant, healthy community of productive citizens. Our mission is to inspire, support and empower the people of the Watts community by identifying and addressing disparities in education, mental health, and economic opportunity. Operating under the three pillars of community engagement, MCDC will focus on providing programs that address mental health, physical health and financial health. To that end, MCDC will aim to provide educationally enriched programs for children, financial literacy programs for adults and form partnerships with public and private entities for the benefit of the Watts community at large. For more information, visit http://macedoniacdc.org.