May 6, 2021 - Axios Events

Axios roundtable on small business recovery in Los Angeles

Hand with a paintbrush paints the Los Angeles skyline

On Wednesday, May 4, Axios' Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Johnston and Business Reporter Hope King hosted a roundtable of community leaders and small business owners in Los Angeles to discuss how small businesses have adapted to the COVID-19 economy, the importance of cross-sector partnerships, and the path to recovery.

The conversation included Wells Fargo’s CEO and president, Charlie Scharf, and Head of Small Business Growth Philanthropy, Jenny Flores, who kicked off the conversation discussing what’s being done to drive economic recovery for small businesses post-pandemic and strategies to address inequities in Los Angeles.

  • Lisa Mensah, CEO, Opportunity Finance Network on learning from past crises and preparing for the future: "Muscle memory takes money. That's the other thing we've learned...we need to be set for the next thing. That's why these infusions of real equity to the balance sheet, the smaller lenders really matters."
  • Maria Salinas, President and CEO, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, on the responsibility of networks like Chambers of Commerce: "This is our wheelhouse, is to ensure that we're understanding what policymakers are wrestling with and that we have a connection back with the community... I think that's a responsibility that an organization like the L.A. Chamber has to stand up for small businesses.
  • Rudy Espinoza, Executive Director, Inclusive Action for the City, on targeting support to minority-owned businesses: "Part of it is about resources. The other part is about...making sure that we're providing loan products that help businesses that are owned by BIPOC entrepreneurs because right now, we're seeing a lot of financial institutions that are still not serving our communities. And we cannot let that happen if we want a just recovery."
  • Xiomara Peña, Vice President of Engagement, Small Business Majority on having a nuanced approach to addressing small business needs: "Not all small businesses operate the same way. One of the biggest challenges to ...was around financial readiness. Financial readiness can entail everything from bookkeeping all the way to recordkeeping. Those are some of the factors we are always considering and how to address them as we think about rebuilding and looking forward."
  • Roberto Martinez, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, City of LA, on the post-pandemic future of small businesses and the need for technical training as well as capital: "We have an opportunity for post-pandemic resiliency, to build fundamental capacity to bridge the digital divide. The small to medium-sized businesses have not been given access, have not been given the tools necessary to provide the skill and the growth they need to be sustainable, resilient post-pandemic."

Thank you Wells Fargo for sponsoring this event.

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