First published in the Feb. 10 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
After launching the Open for Business Fund to provide grants to nonprofits and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that support diverse small businesses impacted by COVID-19, Wells Fargo has created its Open for Business Fund Los Angeles Community Champion program. Together with Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and Inclusive Action for the City, the program recognizes and honors small businesses that “have gone above and beyond for their community during the pandemic,” according to Wells Fargo.
Innovate Marketing Group, a woman-owned experience and event management agency in Pasadena, is among the honorees. Innovate Marketing Group faced massive disruptions to the events industry from COVID-19. While adapting to provide virtual events for the first time, CEO/founder Amanda Ma held free webinars to teach other small business owners and nonprofits how to pivot in a virtual world and educate on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
“The future is looking really bright since we received the support…through the program,” Ma said. “I’m so grateful for a program like this; it really helped me propel my business. To know there is a company like Wells Fargo who provides funds to support small business when it’s really needed — I’m just full of gratitude.”
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 establishments provide the majority of jobs and income for the 10 million residents of America’s most populous and diverse county, and tens of thousands of these enterprises remain at significant risk due to ongoing disruptions caused by the pandemic.
With the capital, technical support and long-term resiliency programs provided through the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund, many of L.A.’s small enterprises have kept their doors open, retained employees and rebuilt. Additionally, many of these business champions have helped lead and support their community through the pandemic’s many challenges.
“The journey to economic recovery must be an inclusive one, given the significant economic, social and health impact COVID-19 has left on diverse small business owners,” said Gregg Sherkin, Southern California leader for Wells Fargo Social Impact and Sustainability. “We are so proud to honor these Community Champions who have not only survived, but are true pillars of their community and have given so much to help others.”
Wells Fargo Mid-L.A. Region Bank President Alice Juarez added, “Together with community partners like the L.A. Chamber, we are celebrating small businesses across Los Angeles County who, even through their struggles, went above and beyond to support their community. We’re proud to name Innovate Marketing Group as a Wells Fargo Open For Business Community Champion.”
The Open for Business Fund is a $420 million small business recovery effort created to help entrepreneurs nationwide stay open, maintain jobs and grow. The Open for Business Fund provides support for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and other nonprofit organizations that serve diverse small businesses, with a focus on Black, African American, Latino, Asian American, American Indian and Alaska Native entrepreneurs.
“Through this program, we are engaging CDFIs and nonprofits to help businesses manage the economic effects of COVID-19 by providing needed capital, technical assistance, and long-term recovery and resiliency support,” Wells Fargo stated.
To learn more about the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund, visit wellsfargo.com/biz/help/open-for-business-grants/.