November 01, 2012

LAWT Wire Service

Fifty-eight new participants will sign-up for the next USC Bridges to Business for Success (B2BS) series this fall because of new Citibank funding. The USC Bridges Program is a public-private collaboration supported by USC’s Minority Business Development Agency Business Center (MBDA), the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Economic and Business Policy, the Los Angeles Housing Department, the Southern California Minority Business Development Institute and the Small Business Administration’s Service Corps of Retired Executives, as well as the Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles, the Black Business Association and the Asian Business Association.

Citi Community Development funded the first two cohorts of the USC Bridges Program with a gift of $60,000. B2BS participants learned to expedite the many details of the procurement process by navigating legal and regulation issues in an efficient manner. They also received business presentation analysis and project management training.  To date, the pilot program has graduated 42 contractors with a 100% success rate at bidding and acquiring government contracts. Cumulatively, B2BS graduates have provided over 100 jobs throughout Los Angeles since April 2012.

Bob Annibale, global director of Citi Community Development and Microfinance said, “Citi is proud to help business owners in Southern California receive the resources they need to succeed, grow, and create jobs. Part of Citi's mission is to empower individuals through financial independence, and through this innovative program we will reach hundreds of minority entrepreneurs and business owners, providing valuable training, networking opportunities and technical assistance."

Sergio Gascon, executive director of USC MBDA Business Center is excited to have a new cohort of contractors who had been on the waiting list start this coveted program, he said.

“This is a win-win situation for all,” said Gascon.

Parent Category: News
Category: Business

October 25, 2012

Associated Press


California's jobless rate fell to from 10.6 to 10.2 percent in September in what may be the largest drop in 36 years, the state announced October 19.

The numbers from the Em­ployment Development Department show the largest tumble in the monthly unemployment rate since 1976, said Kevin Callori, a spokesman for the department. Callori warned that the California figures are preliminary and could be revised next month.

The rate in September was more than a full percentage point better than the 11.7 percent unemployment rate at the same time a year ago.

California added 8,500 nonfarm payroll jobs last month, showing the state's economy was continuing its gradual improvement.

"It is a significant drop," Callori said. "It is an encouraging sign, and it is consistent with the overall trend which is increasing jobs."

Half a dozen sectors grew, including education, finance and transportation. The biggest gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 10,700 jobs.

Five sectors reported job losses, including construction and manufacturing and mining and logging.

An accompanying federal survey of households shows an increase in the number of working Californians, reversing a three month trend in which the number of employed people was falling.

The number of unemployed people fell to 1.88 million in September.

But the rosy numbers may be due in part to people giving up on active job searches. The total labor force shrunk by about 7,000 people over the past month and fell by 74,000 people from last year.

The drop in California's jobless rate follows the national trend.

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped in September to 7.8 percent, falling below 8 percent for the first time since the month President Barack Obama took office.

Parent Category: News
Category: Business

October 25, 2012


LAWT Staff Writers


The numbers only tell half the story; over 400 vendors supplied good food and a variety of other merchandise to more than 300,000 people along a 1.1 mile radius of the Crenshaw Blvd. corridor for approximately nine hours at the 7th annual ‘Taste of Soul’ Family Festival last Saturday, October 20th.

“Taste of Soul” has become the largest assembly of Black Businesses in Los Angeles.  The event has become such a phenomenon that local Black businesses are emerging from booth renter to employer and large established corporations, like Chevy and Broadway Federal Bank and government agencies, such as Metro Transportation Authority (MTA), are providing jobs to those who were once collecting unemployment. 

All of this transpired because of the masses of individuals who annually gather at ‘Taste of Soul’ to enjoy the array of festivities and they have also been afforded the chance to meet, greet and explore the vendor products and services in an atmosphere that is conducive to such success.

Metro was able to promote the once controversial Expo Line and the upcoming Crenshaw Line in a way that did not involve political red flags.  Last weekend Metro reported an increase of individuals they encountered at ‘Taste of Soul’ who used their new branch of transportation to attend the event and who said they intend to continue using it for days beyond

“Taste of Soul” isn’t just about food and entertainment; it’s also about the empowerment of businesses, many people hadn’t heard of some of these businesses before “Taste of Soul”; it gave our local businesses and our corporate sponsors great exposure, said Creator and Founder of “Taste of Soul”, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., who is an established, successful business icon in his own right.  Thus, ‘Taste of Soul’ has demonstrated empowerment at its best during a time when our economy is slowly recovering from near collapse.

Local favorite creole seafood eatery such as Harold and Belles invested in seven booths at the event, and discovered that ‘Taste of Soul’ is not just where you sell food; it’s where you grow your established brand.

A variety of cultures were represented in vendors such as Stone’s Jamaican, Mel’s fish, the Cobbler King, Real Water and many others that offered candy, clothing, sweet cakes and more.  One gentleman who specializes in selling Kettle Corn made his first appearance at the event in 2011 and has literally not left Crenshaw Blvd. since then.  Throughout the year, you can find him on the corner of Crenshaw & Martin Luther King Blvd in front of the Department and Water building.  “Taste of Soul” is building and growing businesses along the Crenshaw corridor all year long.

The month of October also celebrated Breast Cancer Awareness and many of the attendees wore pink ribbons in support of the cause.  There was a health vendor that offered breast mammograms, and Aids Healthcare Corp provided tests for HIV in addition to important tips to combat the dreaded disease. 

The non-profit and community service organizations were also well represented on Saturday.  With booths representing a variety of services that support healthcare, job development, safety, education, neighborhood safety and disaster preparedness, you could find SEIU, Fire Station 94, the Brotherhood Crusade, the Urban League, LA City Workforce Development and others that demonstrated we are a tight knit neighborhood that has spending power, business acumen and a strong sense of community. 

“Taste of Soul” Nation is people working together; “Taste of Soul” is not just a family festival; “Taste of Soul” has a purpose and a common goal to provide an economic stimulus for our neighborhood resulting in an event that promotes respect for one another in a peaceful and fun-loving atmosphere of hope and love.  

You proved that “Taste of Soul” was CREATED FOR YOU and you definitely SHARED THE LOVE.   The boost for this economic engine is the quality of the event and the SPIRIT of the people selling and attending.  The vendors have proven that they are here for the long haul because most of them have submitted their requests for space for the October 19th, 2013 “Taste of Soul.”  Hope to see you next year!!!  The vendors will definitely be there!!!

Parent Category: News
Category: Business

October 11, 2012

Robert L. Johnson, chairman of The RLJ Companies and founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), announced recently that RLJ Acquisition, Inc. has successfully completed the business combination acquiring Image Entertainment, Inc. and Acorn Media Group, Inc., two highly complementary media content distribution companies to create RLJ Entertainment, Inc. Approved by the company’s, Image’s and Acorn’s respective shareholders, RLJ Enter­tainment, Inc. becomes one of the largest independent global distributors of digital and video content.

“RLJ Entertainment CEO Ted Green, COO Miguel Penella, and I are very excited about this new business combination,” said Johnson.

“RLJ Entertainment’s goal is to become a preeminent distributor of content to all media platforms including DVD and Blu-Ray, digital downloads, digital streaming, and broadcast and cable. We are also committed as part of our business strategy, to leveraging our experience in acquiring, distributing, and monetizing content to create branded digital subscription channels over the Internet targeted to distinct audiences that are underserved by current media platforms and interested in programming that appeals directly to their unique viewing interests.

“RLJ Entertainment believes that the growing convergence of streaming digital content directly to the television set will revolutionize the way consumers acquire content on a customized a la carte basis rather than purchasing bundled packages. RLJ Entertainment is uniquely situated to become a prominent player in a digital media world where the consumer controls what they want to see and when and where they want to see it.”

RLJ Entertainment marks the third company Johnson has taken public, including Black Entertainment Television, which became the first African American company publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 1991 and RLJ Lodging Trust, a $2 billion market cap hotel REIT with 144 hotels, which Johnson co-founded with CEO Tom Baltimore, went public in May of 2011.

Shares of RLJ Entertainment common stock will be traded on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the stock ticker symbol RLJE.  RLJ Enter­tainment warrants will be traded on the Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board.  The company anticipates that payments to holders of its shares of common stock that redeemed their shares will be made promptly following the closing of the business combination.

In conjunction with and to provide funding for these acquisitions and RLJ Entertainment’s ongoing working capital needs, RLJ Entertainment entered into a $70 million credit agreement with a group led by SunTrust, which includes a five-year $15 million revolving credit facility and three tranches of term loans totaling $55 million with final maturities ranging from five to five and one-half years, at interest rates ranging from prime rate plus 5 percent to 6.25percent or LIBOR plus 6 percent to 7.25 percent plus an additional 3 percent per annum paid in kind on the last $15 million of the facilities.

Parent Category: News
Category: Business

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