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Small Business | LEARNING CURVE: YOGANICS

Salad Days : Tax Breaks Drive Food Firm's Growth

August 06, 1996|KAREN KAPLAN

Konda Masson and Laura Louie built their organic food delivery business in South-Central Los Angeles so they could help the local economy. Because they're in a government-sponsored revitalization zone, they were eligible for a host of tax breaks. Masson and Louie were interviewed by Karen Kaplan.

We found out about a home delivery service for organic food in New York City. Since we were so concerned with organics and natural foods, we tried to find a service like that here, but it didn't exist. So we decided to start one of our own.

Organic food is anything grown or processed without pesticides, chemicals or herbicides. It's food the way we were meant to eat it. We wanted to make it easier for people to eat organic food. If we can expand the market, we think prices will come down.

We got a warehouse in South-Central Los Angeles. When we started this business, it was important for us to be in an area that we wanted to see prosper and thrive. We also wanted to bring some more employment opportunities to this area.

Locating in South-Central turned out to be really cost-effective. We didn't know it at the time, but our warehouse is in a state revitalization zone. After the uprising in 1992, the state offered some incentives to encourage businesses to develop there. It turned out we were qualified for some of those wonderful tax incentives because we are in the zone.

We got a tax break based on our location, and we also got a tax break for employing people in the area. These incentives are really designed to help businesses in the community.

We gave most of the paperwork to our accountant, but the forms are pretty straightforward. We won't start seeing the savings until next spring, when we file our taxes for 1996. But we can already tell that the revitalization zone is working, because business is definitely growing in the area.

One of our intentions was to bring the sensibility of yoga into our business and make it a part of everything that we do. At some point, we got caught up in running our business, and when we got sidetracked, everything went haywire.

Now that we remembered who we are and what we are about, it's a lot better. When we became re-centered, the entire company became focused. It has also been very profitable for us. Everyone here is in sync, and when everyone is working together, we are a lot more efficient.

On why they located in South-Central Los Angeles . . .

"It was important for us to be in an area that we wanted to see prosper and thrive. We also wanted to bring some more employment opportunities to this area."

On the tax breaks they received for being in a revitalization zone . . .

"We got a tax break based on our location, and we also got a tax break for employing people in the area."

On whether the tax incentives are making a difference . . .

"We won't start seeing the savings until next spring when we file our taxes for 1996. But we can already tell that the revitalization zone is working, because business is definitely growing in the area."

AT A GLANCE

Company: Yoganics

Owners: Konda Masson and Laura Louie

Nature of business: Home delivery of organic food

Location: South-Central Los Angeles

Year founded: 1995

Number of employees: 15

Annual sales: Expecting $144,250

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