Getting a Head Start on L.A. Jobs : Urban League launches business development center in the inner city

Sometimes, out of bitter seeds sweet fruit can grow. More than one year after the devastating civil unrest, residents of South-Central Los Angeles and Inglewood will reap benefits from two economic programs that arose from the riots.

With $1 million from Arco and $1 million from 17 savings banks, the Los Angeles Urban League launched the Business Development and Entrepreneur Center. The center, in Inglewood, will be the home of both an entrepreneurial program and a job training program.

There is a reason that such initiatives are so important. In post-riot studies from the 1960s through last year, some unfortunate common conclusions about causes are reached: Civil disturbances are bred by poverty, racism, lack of education and opportunity and a hopelessness that those conditions will ever change.

Thus the new Urban League center takes aim at those longstanding social ills. Newly created businesses and job training employ people, open doors of opportunity and education, provide constructive ways to battle racism and give hope that life can and will get better.

The center seeks a direct route to cutting poverty, says L.A. Urban League President John W. Mack. "(We want to) cause dollars to turn over more than one time in South-Central Los Angeles and Inglewood, and put food on the table for thousands of African-Americans and other minorities," he said.

Arco Chief Executive Officer Lod Cook added: "The stability of a community is based on the economic stability of its residents. We must save the jobs we already have and bring new jobs into the community."

As many as 100 men and women per year will be trained, by banks taking part in the job program, to be tellers, appraisers and loan processors.

The center will have another big plus: a computer linkup with local government purchasing departments, which should increase opportunities for small businesses.

Perhaps most important over the long term, the center will encourage budding entrepreneurs with seminars, workshops and personalized assistance with financial management, marketing and loan packaging.

The goals of the Urban League Business Development and Entrepreneur Center are well worth enthusiastically supporting, as Secretary of Commerce Ronald H. Brown and Mayor Richard Riordan did at last week's opening. Maybe it's the start of something small that could turn into something big.

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