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One-Stop Permit Shop Opens in Crenshaw : Business: The center centralizes the services of 12 federal, state and local agencies for entrepreneurs.

July 25, 1993|ERIN J. AUBRY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

With political fanfare that included appearances by Gov. Pete Wilson and Mayor Richard Riordan, the Business Revitalization Center officially opened Thursday at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

The center, the result of Wilson's executive order to improve the quality of business life in post-riot Los Angeles, is a one-stop shop for new small-business owners who traditionally face a mountain of paperwork--and long waiting periods--when applying for permits and licenses.

"We try to help businesses get off the ground, step by step," said center manager Andrew Dumas. "The object is to cut down on the red tape."

The center promises to streamline the bureaucratic process for entrepreneurs by centralizing the services of 12 federal, state and local agencies that most frequently require business owners to apply for permits and clearances. Agencies that will be represented at the center include the state Environmental Protection Agency, the federal Small Business Administration and the city and county.

In addition to directing entrepreneurs through the governmental maze, the center will also offer small-business training programs, employer tax assistance, information on obtaining state contracts and one-on-one business counseling.

Bill Price, Crenshaw Corridor project manager for the Community Redevelopment Agency, said the city is welcoming the state-sponsored center as a valuable partner in efforts to rebuild Los Angeles. "The permit process really puts people off, and this should really help out," he said. "Our job is to try and make sure people know it's available."

The center builds on a concept started at a similar center that opened last year on Wilshire Boulevard that offered the permit assistance services of the state EPA. The Wilshire center closed this year and relocated in the plaza with expanded services.

"The (Baldwin Hills) center is unique because the state got the cooperation of so many different agencies," said EPA Communications Director James Lee. "In one stop, business owners can cover all their bases."

The center's two-year budget of $400,000 was funded by four state agencies and private donations by various groups, including mall developers Alexander Haagen Co., Apple Computers, the Vons Co. and Bank of America. For a quick overview of business center and other state services, entrepreneurs can also use Info/California, a bilingual touch-screen computer that provides information on education, environment, family, health, transportation and employment issues.

The center is targeted for business owners whose stores were damaged in last year's riots, but any business owner is welcome.

Ruby Martin, a Baldwin Hills resident and owner of a seafood restaurant for seven years, said the center looks like "a big step in the right direction." The only question, she said, is whether word of the new center will reach those who need it most.

"People will take advantage of this if they get the information," Martin said. "The concept of this is great. Dealing with government requirements discourages a lot of people from starting businesses in the first place. Hopefully, this will make things easier."

Information: (213) 290-7100.

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