This past Wednesday, the Los Angeles Urban League and Wells Fargo Bank held a joint press conference to announce Wells Fargo’s grant of one million dollars to support the Los Angeles Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Center and general operations.  In the words of Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, this grant represents a long-term investment in the Los Angeles Urban League and the communities that we serve.  We will use this investment to promote economic empowerment in Los Angeles County through our Entrepreneurship Center and other programs. However, our ultimate goal is to rebuild Greenwood, the district of Tulsa, OK, which, in the three (3) days of rioting from white mobs, was demolished in 1921, the year that the Los Angeles Urban League opened its doors.

After a year and a half of lockdowns, closures, or adapting to an online model, Black business owners are looking for innovative ways to grow and meet this challenge with us. With limited COVID-19 support from local, state, and federal government programs, the need for private-sector support of African American businesses is explicit and now more critical than ever. Wells Fargo understands this need, and we are grateful that they heeded the call.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have seen more than 40% of black-owned businesses close their doors, with 32% of LatinX-owned and 26% Asian-owned businesses forced to close shop as well. We have also seen our entrepreneurs bounce back in force. The Kaufman Foundation reported that African Americans started more business endeavors over the past 18 months than at any time in the past quarter-century. Black entrepreneurs, either through inspiration or necessity, continue to create their opportunities and find ways to build more businesses than any other group during the pandemic.  But more support is needed to help these businesses survive and ultimately thrive.

Throughout the pandemic, our Entrepreneurship Center has been hard at work supporting Los Angeles’ minority-owned business. Our Entrepreneurship Center prepares small businesses throughout Los Angeles for grants and interest-free loans. We provide training in loan readiness, business readiness, marketing, strategy, pricing, and more. Our 6-month incubator program helps established businesses become contract-ready and enhance their ability to grow their business through technical assistance, coaching, access to professional back-office support, and access to contracts.  We have provided small business workshops to more than 500 entrepreneurs, and we have distributed over $295,000 in grants and provided 454 hours of counseling with 159 clients receiving 1-on-1 counseling.

We appreciate the investment that Wells Fargo has made in the Los Angeles Urban League and in the communities that we serve.  This investment demonstrates that Wells Fargo believes in the work that the Los Angeles Urban League is doing and the impact that this will have on the communities we serve.

As we celebrate our centennial, we must have partners such as Wells Fargo who assist us in our mission during these challenging times.  We are proud to call Wells Fargo a partner in growing our Entrepreneurship Center to support the needs of minority-owned businesses throughout Los Angeles.