Business News West Edition

BUSINESS DIGEST: New support center to help businesses on Crenshaw

LOS ANGELES – Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts toured Metro’s recently opened Business Solution Center to help businesses impacted by construction of the Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line between 48th and 60th streets.

“The Crenshaw line is a tremendous investment in our infrastructure to cut traffic, stimulate the economy and finally connect rail to LAX,” said Garcetti, chair of the Metro Board. “This center is about making sure businesses get the support they need while Metro makes the infrastructure investments Angelenos deserve.”

Created by the Metro Board, the new Business Solution Center at 3450 Mount Vernon Drive (near Crenshaw) provides free support services, business development and financial referrals to business owners affected by construction of the light-rail line.

Ridley-Thomas said while the Crenshaw/LAX line will spark economic growth and opportunity once it is completed in 2019, businesses need help staying afloat today.

“We need to ensure that the businesses affected by the construction have the help they need to weather the storm,” he said. “While construction is ongoing, Metro’s pilot Business Solution Center will be a great resource for merchants, so they can receive expert advice and technical assistance.”

Small businesses located near but not within the 48th to 60th street area along the Crenshaw/LAX corridor also will have access to the Business Solution Center for business and technical assistance, including case management referrals to business development partners, officials said.

The center is located within the Los Angeles Urban League facility. A satellite office also will be established at 510 S. La Brea Avenue in Inglewood. Operating hours for the main office are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line is a $2.058 billion light-rail line that will connect the Green Line and the Expo Line. It will have eight new stations to serve the Crenshaw, Inglewood and LAX communities.


For more information on the center and on other campaigns designed to help business along Crenshaw, visit


Event honors leaders

in Compton, Inglewood


ROSEMEAD – The Compton Unified School District, the Inglewood Unified School District, the Moreno Valley Black Chamber of Commerce and the Youth Action Project were among the honorees at the 13th annual Black History Month celebration held recently at Southern California Edison’s Energy Education Center.

More than 300 celebrants attended the event, which honors the achievements of local African-American businesses and leaders, their contributions to economic growth, service to the community and participation in energy-efficiency programs.

“Our partnerships with our business and community leaders are the foundation of the service we provide to our customers,” said Lisa Cagnolatti, vice president of SCE’s Business Customer Division.  “Southern California Edison’s annual Black History Month event is an opportunity to show our appreciation to them and to the communities we serve.”

The Compton and Inglewood school districts were given SCE’s Energy Efficiency Participation Award for energy conservation at their respective school sites. Their participation in the School Energy Efficiency Program has saved both school districts money on electricity consumption and helped create more comfortable learning environments for students, officials said.

Alvin Jenkins, director of facilities for the Compton district, and Joe Dominguez, chief deputy superintendent for the Inglewood district, accepted the award for their school districts.


Corporate America

losing black voices


CHICAGO – The recent announcement that Don Thompson will retire as CEO of McDonald’s Corp. leaves just two CEOs who are African-American in the elite Dow 30.

A broader sample shows an even more dismal diversity picture. A mere five CEOs are black at the nation’s 500 largest companies, according to a pro-diversity advocacy group.

“Our numbers are going south on us,” said Ronald Parker, CEO of The Executive Leadership Council, an organization that works to boost diversity in corporate America.

That’s no better than two years ago when Thompson took the helm at McDonald’s, becoming the sixth African-American CEO in the Fortune 500. That number peaked in 2007 at seven, according to Richard Zweigenhaft, a Guilford College professor who wrote a book on the subject.

The numbers are especially startling, given that 13.2 percent of the U.S. population is African American, according to the Census Bureau.

Thompson’s retirement leaves just five CEOs who are African-American in the Fortune 500. Kenneth Chenault of American Express, Delphi’s Rodney O’Neal, Merck’s Kenneth Frazier, Carnival’s Arnold W. Donald, and Ursula Burns of Xerox.

Corporate boards, too, lack racial diversity and are overwhelmingly white. That needs to change, too, Parker said, and boards need to be “very, very intentional and methodical in succession planning.”