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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.

Go deeper

Updated May 4, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on minority-owned small business recovery

On Tuesday, May 4, Axios markets reporter Courtenay Brown, editor-in-chief Nicholas Johnston and business reporter Hope King unpacked how local businesses and policymakers are working to build a sustainable and lasting economic recovery from the pandemic, featuring Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell and Eso Won Books co-owner James Fugate.

Rep. Judy Chu unpacked how government can support small businesses through effective policymaking, and highlighted the inequities in the PPP loan process.

  • "I am very concerned about the disparities...The Latino [population] got loans at half the rate of the regular population, and the Black population was only able to get it by about three-quarters of what whites were able to."

Holly Mitchell discussed Los Angeles Country's progressive approach to supporting women and minority-owned businesses and strengthening the relationship between banks and small, community-based businesses.

  • "Equity must be the lens through which we look at investment, recognizing the disproportionate impact communities of color have had as a result of this virus."

James Fugate described how the push to purchase from Black-owned businesses following the murder of George Floyd impacted his store, as well as as others in Los Angeles.

  • "Not only did it offset the decline in the business, but we ended up having one of the best years we've ever had...that is what set in motion this great surge at stores like ours and others."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top Segment with Wells Fargo CEO and president Charlie Scharf discussed how small businesses make up the backbone of the economy in cities like Los Angeles, and the importance of large institutions being good community parters.

  • "93% percent of Los Angeles businesses have fewer than 20 employees, which is just striking. It's just the reality that Los Angeles is home to so many small and micro-businesses. And so we recognize that there is a tremendous amount that we have to do."

Thank you Wells Fargo for sponsoring this event.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
May 6, 2021 - Economy & Business

Teetering on the edge, small businesses get another lifeline

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Following the news that the Paycheck Protection Program had run out of funding and stopped accepting most new applications, the White House unveiled data for its $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which it said saw “extremely high demand.”

Why it matters: Small businesses play an important role in the U.S. economy and many, especially those in the services sector like restaurants and bars, are still struggling with a disproportionate number forced to close for good because of revenue losses from the pandemic.

1 hour ago - Health

Novavax says COVID-19 vaccine was 90% effective in Phase 3 trial

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Novavax, a Maryland biotechnology company, announced Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine was 90.4% effective in its Phase 3 trial, including against coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The study of 29,960 participants in the U.S. and Mexico found the shot was safe and highly effective, paving the way for the FDA to clear a 4th vaccine for emergency use by the end of the year.

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