Communities

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USC program builds on its business success

Small business owners Ella Nelly and Juan Perea (USC Photo/Rich Schmitt)

March 4, 2013

One hundred Los Angeles small business owners have been honored for completing the USC Bridges to Business Success program.

Bridges to Business Success — a public-private collaboration between USC, Citi Community Development, the Los Angeles Mayor’s office and other partners — certifies and trains minority business enterprises on contract bidding and business expansion to help them compete for government and private-sector contracting opportunities.

In just two years, program participants have obtained 209 construction contracts totaling $11.2 million; created more than 400 new jobs; secured more than $600,000 in capital financing; and rehabilitated 25 homes for purchase by first-time buyers of low-to-moderate income.

“As the largest private employer in Los Angeles, job creation is a high priority for USC,” said Thomas Sayles, senior vice president of University Relations. “The Bridges to Business Success program is quickly becoming a model that strengthens workforce development by securing job creation, retention and economic vitality in our communities.”

Program participant Alex Rojano, owner of AR Electric Inc., said the contracts he was able to acquire as a result of the training he gained have tripled his company’s revenue.

“In addition to getting the resources and knowledge of how to grow our business,” he said, “we’ve learned how to manage and control the growth in order to know how to remain successful.”

Ella Nelly, founder of Emac Construction Inc., was able to expand her kitchen remodeling business into a certified construction company, adding $200,000 in revenue to her bottom line.“The program gave me the education and information that was really important for me to learn how to run a construction company,” she said. “As graduates of the program, we have been able to meet people and observe how they work. It’s important to work together for us to get to the next level.”

Juan Perea, who was part of the first Bridges to Business program, said, “Because of this program, we have been able to hire local painters, plumbers, electricians, construction workers, roofers and carpenters.”

Added Bob Annibale, global director of Citi Community Development: “Los Angeles County has by far the highest concentration of minority-owned small businesses in the country — more than 466,000, according to the latest census data.

“By empowering these businesses to obtain minority-owned certification and compete for significant city procurement contracts, this innovative program will enable more such small businesses to access new opportunities and create jobs.”

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