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Valley Roundup | PACOIMA

New Tech Center to Benefit Community

March 31, 2000|EDGAR SANDOVAL

A technology center designed to improve the quality of life in one of the most economically depressed areas of Los Angeles was welcomed Thursday as an important addition to the neighborhood.

Pacoima residents can take classes in English at the center, and can use it to prepare for the general equivalency diploma test. Children can use the latest software to do their homework and small business owners can learn new electronic commerce related skills.

About 80 people joined area dignitaries Thursday at the grand opening of Pacoima's Community Technology Center on Glenoaks Boulevard.

Many organizations and private businesses contributed to the creation of the center, which is equipped with about 20 computers and up-to-date software, said Mario Matute, director of the Pacoima Workforce Development Initiative.

"We will equip people with necessary technical skills, and the employers will hire them," Matute said. "This is not just today. This is the beginning."

A recent survey showed that Pacoima's unemployment rate was much higher than other parts of the region and nation, said City Councilman Alex Padilla, who represents the area.

Most people in the community of about 81,000 have a hard time finding a job because of their lack of adequate English skills and lack of employment history, Matute said.

The center brings hope to both young and older residents who want to improve their computer skills, Padilla said.

About one-third of Pacoima's population, which is 77% Latino and 13% African American, falls below the federal poverty line, according to census figures.

"Pacoima deserves it, needs it," Padilla said. "High tech industry demands it."

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