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Long Beach hopes to create an environment where everyone can thrive

Statistic that fewer than 15 percent of Black and Asian people own businesses, compared to 40 percent of white people in Long Beach sparks new initiative.

Photo illustration by Jade Inglada

Photo illustration by Jade Inglada

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The “Everyone In” initiative introduced by Long Beach Vice Mayor Rex Richardson seeks to tackle issues of inclusivity among minorities in business and the working community in Long Beach.

“It’s a call to action to all segments of our community, to make sure our economy grows with everyone in mind,” Richardson said. “It means making sure everyone has a place to plug into our economy no matter what part of town you live in, no matter your race or socioeconomic status, your gender or your criminal background.”

The city council approved three different proposals geared toward the ‘Everyone In’ initiative that include an economic equity study, free bank accounts to youth in the workforce development program, and designating the city of Long Beach as a “Kiva City.”

According to its website, Kiva is a California-based nonprofit organization with the goal to decrease poverty by lending to entrepreneurs. The Kiva City program allows for local lenders to connect with individuals in need of loans. Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans also participate in this program.

“Kiva borrowers are typically entrepreneurs who cannot qualify for conventional business financing due to poor credit, or little financial collateral,” Richardson said. “One of the biggest challenges facing these small business owners — especially women and minority-owned businesses — is the inability to access capital.”

Randal Hernandez, the economic development commission chair, shared with the city council what needs to be done to help the diverse population in Long Beach.

”It’s always been a challenge for many years [to] reach into multicultural communities and have a frank discussion on what makes them tick, how can we be more effective and what services the city [and community] can provide,” Hernandez said. “We want to get stakeholders together and really do a deep dive into these underserved communities.”

District 8 councilmember Al Austin emphasized the role of schools in this process.

“I can’t stress enough partnerships with our great educational institutions are extremely important because that is the great equalizer,” Austin said. “You don’t achieve equity, you don’t approve conditions without improving our educational status.”

Pastor Leon Wood Jr. commended the council for introducing these proposals but wanted to make the council aware of the additional outreach needed to inform teens and young adults.

“I want to emphasize the fact that what we have in Long Beach is families with young men raised by single parents,” Wood said. “There needs to be a special effort to ensure that these young men and young women are going to have a chance to get some of the benefits so it can be universal to the entire community of Long Beach.”

District 5 councilmember Stacy Mungo stressed that the initiative is vital to the future of Long Beach.

“People love to live and work here so the ability for us to invest in ourselves is such a huge opportunity,” Mungo said. “When we take personal ownership of our communities, and our neighborhoods, and our businesses; only then can we take that next step together.”

The next city council meeting will be Nov. 14.

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