After launching the Open for Business Fund to provide grants to nonprofits and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that support diverse small businesses impacted by COVID-19, Wells Fargo has created the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund 2021 Los Angeles Community Champion program.
In cooperation with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and Inclusive Action for the City, the program recognizes and honors local small businesses that have gone above and beyond for their community during the pandemic.
Los Angeles County is home to more than 1.3 million small businesses, including more women and minority-owned small businesses than any other county in the nation. These establishments provide the majority of jobs and income for the ten million residents of America’s most populous and diverse county, and tens of thousands of these enterprises remain at significant risk due to ongoing disruptions caused by the pandemic.
“The journey to economic recovery must be an inclusive one, given the significant economic, social and health impact COVID-19 has left on diverse small business owners,” said Gregg Sherkin, Southern California leader for Wells Fargo Social Impact and Sustainability. “We are so proud to honor these Community Champions who have not only survived, but are true pillars of their community and have given so much to help others.”
Wells Fargo, along with aforementioned business entities, have worked together to recognize a number of small business heroes as Community Champions:
• The Plant Plug™: Based in South Los Angeles, The Plant Plug™ is an organic gardening and botany education business. Owner Taylor Harrison provides workshops at local schools on how equity can be achieved through agriculture while also teaching fellow small business owners about financial literacy for free. Their goal is to teach other aspiring entrepreneurs how valuable their skills, goods and services are, and how a hobby can sprout into a successful business. The organization was awarded $5,000 in recognition of its “outstanding service” to the South Los Angeles community.
• Alma “Patty” Archuleta: Patty Archuleta has been a clothing street vendor on 31st and San Pedro St. for six years – and in that time, she has stepped up to become a lead organizer for the nearly 100 street vendors on her corridor. After recovering from her own life-threatening battle with COVID-19 last year, Patty continues to be a leader in her community by helping fellow street vendors apply for financial assistance, navigate permitting and overcome technical barriers to aid programs.
• Emma’s Meat Market: As a family-owned business in Boyle Heights, Emma’s Meat Market strives to provide accessible healthy and fresh food to the community. After seeing many customers struggle to afford food during the pandemic, owners Juan and Irene Vazquez organized a food distribution event, providing over 200 boxes of groceries and produce to individuals and families impacted by COVID-19.
• Mi Lindo Guanajuato Restaurant: Miguel Angel Alfaro opened Mi Lindo Guanajuato Restaurant in Boyle Heights just two weeks before the pandemic struck. With help from the Open for Business Fund, Miguel was able to keep the doors open and at the same time help his community stay healthy. Miguel stepped up as a COVID-19 Vaccine Ambassador, distributing information to customers in Spanish and English about vaccine safety and efficacy and ways to schedule an appointment.
The Open for Business Fund is estimated to reach more than 152,000 small businesses and has helped to protect roughly 255,000 jobs nationwide between July 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021, many of which are located in Los Angeles and include these Community Champions.