The Small Business Administration and Operation Hope have partnered on a One Million Black Businesses by 2030 initiative. They kicked off their 15-stop national tour at Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation Wednesday, September 14.  

An A-List lineup spoke at the press event – VSEDC President and CEO Joseph T. Rouzan, III, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren D. Price from the 9th District, Operation Hope Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant, and SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman.

Take a look below for the highlights.

“Just recently we opened up our multi-million-dollar technology center at 6109 South Western Ave – that’s right, in the heart of South LA – in a partnership with Best Buy and Annenberg Foundation. At that center we will be teaching our kids and young adults coding, cybersecurity, drones, digital animation, digital photography and my personal favorite, we have a state-of-the-art sound recording studio that would marvel anyone in that industry. With the support of AT&T, we will now be opening our Connected Learning Center in mid-October.  
At VSEDC we don’t believe technology is of the future, but rather now. We must equip our future generation with technical skills for meaningful and self-sustaining careers for business ownership.” 
– Joseph T. Rouzan, III, President and CEO of Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation
“Look across the street right now. I want everyone to see this project which Metro and the City of Los Angeles is doing, taking old, decrepit train tracks that will now be the most beautiful bikeway/walkway/parkway that will go from rail to rail, all the way to the river, eventually. It’s really a sign of a Los Angeles rising again. It’s leading in job creation of all the big cities in America. Leading in wealth building in all the big cities in America. Raised the minimum wage of Black and Brown incomes, increased by 44 and 43 percent, respectively, while the country only went up by 27 percent.  
We got a lot of work still to do, but this is a good place to be with this group here today. And it all starts with small business. This initiative is necessary. We didn’t take to the streets two years ago to forget about racism today. We have to be ongoing, intentional, and we have to see it through. Racial injustice isn’t just a march one day. It is a cause for our lives.” 
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles
“The partnerships we celebrate today makes for a stronger South LA. I am excited about the small business assistance our small business community and our entrepreneurs are going to be receiving. Both from the SBA and Operation Hope – another legacy organization. And just think, one million Black businesses. That’s got a nice little ring to it, doesn’t it? It surely is music to my ears.”
– Curren D. Price, Los Angeles City Councilmember, Council District 9
“Here’s the facts of it. In the last two years, during the pandemic, the largest group of small business creation have been Black businesses. Within that group, and within all groups, the largest group creating small businesses in America are Black women. But we have a problem. Because 96% of all Black businesses don’t have an employee.  
If you do not have technology at the center of what you are doing, you are not growing. You need technology at the center of your church, your non-profit, for-profit, small business, and political office. 
This moment is not coming back. It’s not. 25 thousand dollars in services. They are yours. It costs you nothing but your time. They (the SBA) are here because they believe in you. And this country needs you.” 
– John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman, CEO of Operation Hope
“The pathway has to be inclusive. When we look at the last 10 years, the face of entrepreneurship has changed. And women and people of color are the ones leading that change, leading entrepreneurship rates. Whether it’s from necessity or opportunity, the fact is that Black women and Brown women have been starting those businesses. And we will rely on them to ensure our economy can be globally competitive. 
Morgan Stanley did a study and found there’s a 4.4 trillion-dollar opportunity gap in our economy because they know that women and businesses owned by people of color don’t achieve the same level of revenues, or the same level of job creation as white owned businesses because they are under invested in. And that’s exactly what the SBA does. The SBA tries to fund businesses or get our private partners to YES more easily so that our businesses can succeed.” 
– Isabella Guzman, SBA Administrator


Mayor Garcetti taking a selfie backstage with Ronald Spencer, Isabella Guzman, John Hope Bryant, Lance Triggs, Victor Parker, and Kevin Boucher
VSEDC President and CEO Joseph T. Rouzan, III, and VSEDC Executive Vice President Libby Williams
Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation with John Hope Bryant and Kecia Washington