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USC builds bridge between business owners and the community

The ceremony was held in March 2012.
Local leaders attend a certification ceremony for minority business owners.

University, city and business leaders attended a certification ceremony in March for 29 minority business owners who completed USC’s eight-week Bridges to Business procurement program.

The event launched the procurement and bidding certification training that prepares local contractors, 25 percent of whom were women business owners, to better understand contracting bids on foreclosed properties.

The Bridges to Business program is a public-private collaboration supported by USC’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Economic and Business Policy, the Los Angeles Housing Department, the Southern California Minority Business Development Institute and the Small Business Administration’s Service Corps of Retired Executives, as well as the Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles, the Black Business Association and the Asian Business Association.

Participants learned to expedite the many details of the procurement process by navigating legal and regulation issues in an efficient manner. They also received business presentation analysis and project management training.

“We know the vital role minority businesses play in job creation and [we will] continue to empower and enhance the local entrepreneurial spirit,” said Theda S. Douglas, associate vice president of government partnership and programs at USC.

Participants were California-licensed contractors who received technical training, overseen by the MBDA, that prepared their businesses to be contract-ready. The individuals subsequently bid on foreclosed properties and then flipped them, increasing neighborhood property value while creating jobs.

“The Bridges to Business program is a one-of-a-kind model that offers real opportunities for small and emerging firms and will help to improve California’s unemployment challenges,” said Bonnie R. James, president and CEO of BRJ & Associates LLC and former vice chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District.

“The graduates of the inaugural Bridges to Business program will immediately carry out a contract, which, in turn, creates jobs,” said Sergio Gascon, executive director of the MBDA’s Business Center at USC. “It has truly bridged a relationship between small minority business owners and our communities, and should be replicated throughout the nation.”

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