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Friday, Apr 12, 2024


LETTER VEDC Had Big Role in Quake Recovery Thank you for your 10-year retrospective issue covering the Northridge Earthquake (Jan. 5). The absence of the Valley Economic Development Center (VEDC) from this issue, however, really missed the pivotal role we played in the rebuilding of the San Fernando Valley. As a former vice president with VEDC, our staff was involved with helping thousands of the small businesses that drive the engine of our local economy. I have been a consultant and coach to small businesses in the San Fernando Valley for the past 15 years, and never before or since, have I experienced such a confluence of professional, volunteer and governmental efforts aimed at improving this large a community. The combined efforts and roles of federal, state and city officials and staff with local leaders brought significant resources and dollars to our community while organizations like the VEDC ushered in improvements to our local economy. Were it not for the efforts of VEDC, thousands of businesses might never have received the financial or technical assistance they needed to rebuild. Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks might not have recovered quite so quickly, home-based businesses might still be illegal, and boulevards throughout the city might never have received business improvement dollars. VEDC played a significant role in all these events. The earthquake afforded VEDC with its largest-ever opportunity to expand beyond its work in economically challenged areas in the Northeast Valley to serve the entire San Fernando Valley. And, it did it in remarkable fashion. In the 30 days following the quake, we conducted some 55 workshops throughout the Valley attended by about 1,500 small business owners who were taught how to apply and qualify for FEMA funds. In the 27 months that followed, VEDC staff helped as many as 8,500 businesses qualified for and met the SBA/FEMA guidelines for funding resulting in nearly $100 million in low-interest capital injected into local businesses. Additionally, we designed a specialized loan program to serve the needs of many small business owners not eligible for the SBA program. The result of our efforts brought $30 million to the region to help earthquake-impacted businesses in the form of revolving loan funds saving hundreds of jobs and companies from economic disaster. Additionally, we played a significant role in the establishment of the Economic Alliance. As a founding organization, VEDC conducted all the community and economic research to prepare a comprehensive economic development strategy for the region. This strategy served as the plan used to capitalize the regional partnership organization and provided a model that was replicated successfully in other areas of the city and county. Jonathan Goldhill, CEO The Growth Coach Woodland Hills

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