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East L.A. Incubator Seeks Entrepreneurs

May 10, 2000|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An East Los Angeles incubator will soon house the start-ups of up to 45 entrepreneurs who will be given a package of incentives to stay in the community once they graduate.

The CHARO Community Development Corp. incubator, under construction on 36,000 square feet near the nonprofit's facility on Valley Boulevard, is expected to open in September to serve CHARO's clientele.

The organization recently received a $750,000 Commerce Department grant to finish the facility and has invested about $250,000 in other funds. It has begun recruiting businesses, which must have completed an entrepreneurial training program to participate.

Unlike many incubators sprouting in the region that focus on technology ventures, many tenants of CHARO's facility will be mainstays of the old economy, such as food processing and flooring, said CHARO spokeswoman Yolanda Duarte-White.

Businesses will share services and facilities, including a test kitchen and procurement center, to help them obtain contracts with corporations, including the more than half-dozen hospitals in the region. They will also receive extensive computer training.

Costs of training and other services will be refunded to businesses that choose to stay in East Los Angeles after graduating from the incubator.

"It's an economic solution to keep our dollars circulating instead of bouncing right out of the community," Duarte-White said. "It could be a magnet for our community for not only job growth, but for wealth creation . . . a chance to build some assets."

CHARO operates an entrepreneurial training center, business assistance center and job-training and other programs in an effort to improve poverty and unemployment rates in the area. For more information on the incubator, call (323) 269-0751.

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