Some leading black business organizations, angered that they were not invited to a Rebuild L.A. meeting Thursday with corporate and community leaders, stepped up calls for Mayor Tom Bradley and task force chief Peter V. Ueberroth to include them in planning the revitalization effort.
Ueberroth met with 100 representatives of local businesses and community organizations, part of an effort to galvanize support and gather ideas for rebuilding riot-torn Los Angeles. Among those attending was a representative of 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, a civic group that includes professionals, community leaders and some businessmen.
However, the Black Business Assn. of Los Angeles, which has 450 members, said it was not invited. And two other black business groups--the African-American Chamber of Commerce and the Mentor Network--say they have not been consulted.
"I'm disappointed we were not invited to join (Thursday's) meeting," said Skip Cooper, executive director of the Black Business Assn. "Ueberroth is calling on corporate leaders to support the rebuilding effort. But small business owners will provide the jobs in the areas suffering most. We're here now and we'll be here--and will be working for economic development--when Ueberroth has left the scene."
Cooper said his association has been helping black business owners who suffered losses during the disturbances. He said black business owners have expertise that could be useful to the Rebuild L.A. task force. Cooper said he still hopes that there will be adequate black business representation on the task force. In a letter to Bradley earlier this week, the association asked the city to help ensure black business representation, Cooper said.
Bradley was sent a similar message by the Mentor Network, a coalition of about 150 black and Latino business owners organized to promote entrepreneurship.
"It would be a major mistake for the mayor and Ueberroth to ignore African-American entrepreneurs, because we have a stake in the economy," said Jaron Hamlett, president of Mentor. "Thus far, the people being consulted are coming from the same groups that were consulted after the Watts riot."
"Ueberroth can marshal certain economic resources," said Gene Hale, president of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles. "To build a stronger economic base, you have to have people with experience in the world of business. We have that kind of experience in the black community. We understand the needs."
Ueberroth could not be reached Thursday, but Bradley, through a spokeswoman, said he expects black business owners to be adequately represented in the Rebuild L.A. effort. A board of directors for the organization is expected to be named soon.
"The (task force) board is still in the process of formation, and concerns expressed by African-American business people are being taken very seriously," spokeswoman Valerie Bunting said. "The mayor believes that the African-American business owners will lead much of the recovery effort."
Ueberroth, a resident of Laguna Beach, has said that Rebuild L.A. will be responsive to the minority residents of the affected neighborhoods, although the fledgling organization is dominated by a small group of white males.
Times staff writer Jonathan Peterson contributed to this report.