Theresa L. Jones (294023)

Caught in the crossfire between a global pandemic and the combustible fallout sparked by the senseless murder of George Floyd, minority small business owners find themselves hard pressed to find a pathway to survival during these unprecedented times. For new or recently started business owners, getting valid answers to their pressing questions is an urgent need.

The Watts-based Entrepreneur Educational Center, Inc. (EECI), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Small Business Administration (SBA), Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation and City of Compton Economic Development Department, has initiated a weekly COVID-19 Response teleconference call for Alumni of its Miracle’s Young Adult & Adult Entrepreneur Program (MYAEP), to provide those answers.

Ken Crawford, SBA-L.A. Economic Development Specialist notes, “We are pleased to partner with EECI to ensure that businesses in every part of Los Angeles, including the greater Watts/Willowbrook communities have access to SBA’s Stimulus programs. Every business is important to our recovery efforts and these calls will help participants meet the requirements to qualify.”

One small business owner who has benefited from EECI programs is Theresa L. Jones, a Watts native and Founder-CEO of New Reflections, Inc. (NRI), a 7 year-old non-profit organization operating in South Los Angeles that provides crisis/transitional housing, supportive services and re-entry programs for displaced or homeless women, (with or without children), divorced, escaping victimization or domestic violence, and ex-offenders.

“We now have over 80 beds combined within our two facilities both located to serve the greater Los Angeles area,” Jones said. “Women and their children are able to find stability in a non-judgmental safe environment, while working towards transitioning to permanent housing,” she added.

“COVID-19 has forced the organization, to make major adjustments and seek stopgap crisis funding. Meal services were adjusted because both adults and children were at the facility 24 hours every day,” Jones revealed. “We also had to set up chrome books and additional wi-fi so the children could do their zoom classes.”

“The additional funding from the SBA, Foundations, Corporations and other private donors helped pay staff and continue to provide services to our population of homeless families. We were able to get the funding because we had organizational factors on the fiscal side in place,” Jones added.

EECI Executive Director Barbara J. Stanton said EECI has post pandemic plans.

“COVID- 19 might dictate that we make some adjustments but EECI is planning an extravaganza to reopen the Watts community and surrounding areas featuring products sold by EECI MYAEP Alumni, with full social distancing and free masks for all attendees.”

For additional information and updates on enrollment in or 2020 free MYAEP classes, visit www.entrepreneureducationalcenter.org.”