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Wells Fargo awards millions to foster inclusive recovery for diverse businesses

Open for Business Fund grants will provide technical assistance

OW Staff Writer | 6/17/2021, 7:54 a.m.
Wells Fargo recently awarded $3.6 million in Open for Business Fund grants to Cal State LA and others...

Wells Fargo recently awarded $3.6 million in Open for Business Fund grants to Cal State LA; Together for L.A.; and New Economics for Women (NEW). Funds will enable the organizations to provide multicultural and multilingual technical assistance, strategies and resources to help Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and women small business owners adapt and sustain economic recovery, including in the tech and entertainment industries.

The Open for Business Fund is a roughly $420 million small business recovery effort created by donating gross processing fees the company received from the federal government for participation in the Paycheck Protection Program in 2020. Through this initiative, Wells Fargo is engaging with nonprofits, and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to provide much-needed capital, technical support, and long-term resiliency programs for women and diverse small businesses.

“The Open for Business Fund enlists the expertise of organizations like Cal State LA; Together for L.A; and NEW to urgently assist small businesses and also help them navigate entrepreneurs back to growth,” said Patty Juarez, head of diverse segments, Commercial Banking, Wells Fargo. “Access to capital is critical, but it’s only part of the equation. Small businesses also need coaching, guidance, and access to experts who can support their journey to recovery. We want to see women and minority entrepreneurs thriving along with the rest of the small business community.”

The Open for Business Fund grant will enable Together for L.A. to launch multilingual and multicultural programs and resources critical to small business survival, reinvention and recovery via substantial outreach and engagement campaigns, webinars and workshops to teach best practices, and will provide one-on-one technical assistance which will be delivered both online and in community. This program will be one of the largest efforts, not just in Los Angeles or California, but across the nation, to reach and serve low and moderate income BIPOC businesses and help them reopen, reinvent themselves and recover through technical assistance.

Together for L.A. partners include Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Los Angeles (LISC LA), The Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, and The Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), which are working together to advance a more equitable, sustainable and resilient economic recovery.

Through these programs, businesses will receive help overcoming challenges related to capital and liquidity, expenses, legal matters, broadband internet, workforce, health protocols and other operational challenges, while enhancing revenue opportunities and overall resilience so businesses are able to better withstand future economic shocks.

“Simply reopening our economy does not equate to full recovery of small businesses and jobs lost to the pandemic, especially those in our historically disadvantaged communities of color. As a banker to businesses large and small, Wells Fargo understands that well and we are grateful for their support and partnership in focusing our collective efforts on the recovery of our region’s women and BIPOC owned small businesses and microenterprises,” said LAEDC CEO Bill Allen.