Newsletter August 2022 Highlights

The mission of The Valley Economic Alliance is to engage and unite Valley stakeholders
to raise standards of living and economic vitality across the San Fernando Valley. We
promote business retention, business attraction, workforce development, and tourism
to create and retain jobs and a great quality of life in the 5-City San Fernando Valley
region, including Burbank, Calabasas, Glendale, Los Angeles, and San Fernando.

In This Issue
  • Letters From The CEO & Chair
  • Thank You
  • Alliance Leadership & Investor Spotlights
  • Economic Development & Small Business
  • Education & Workforce Development
  • Livable & Sustainable Communities
  • Announcements
  • Calendar of Events
Letters from the CEO & Chair
Dear Friends, 

Focusing on the nexus between health and wealth, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has long asserted that people with greater wealth generally enjoy better health. Wealthier people tend to live longer and enjoy health benefits such as decreased risks of obesity, smoking, hypertension, and asthma. And in light of the health crisis, we have experienced from the pandemic, we are perhaps more focused on our physical, mental, and financial health any other time in our lifetimes. 

At the Alliance, we believe that healthier communities support prosperous economies. 

Voter turnout in Los Angeles County for our recent June Primary Election was 28%. In many communities here in the San Fernando Valley voter turnout was less than 20%. Voting has never been easier, with postage free mail in ballots delivered to every voter. But people aren’t voting.
The question is how long our democracy will last when the citizenry doesn’t trust the electoral process, and flat out doesn’t vote. Unfortunately, the answer may be not too much longer. We are already seeing the fraying of our society and already feeling the anxiety the resulting political turmoil.

Thank You
Thank you Citizens Business Bank for your commitment to improve long-term economic prosperity for our business community and enhance the quality of life for all who live and work in our region.
Alliance Leadership & Investor Spotlights
Board of Directors Spotlights
Congratulations to our Board Members and Honorary Board Members!
We extend a heartfelt congratulations to our board members and honorary board members who are part of 2022’s The Valley 200, “the most influential leaders in the Greater SFV Region”. Your incredible commitment to making a difference for people and businesses the Valley is unsurpassed!

Bill Allen
Gerard Apfelthaler
Martha Diaz Azskenazy
Sonya Kay Blake
Reverend Zedar Broadus
Cleveland Brown
Brian Chu
Barry Cohn
Armida Colmenares-Stafford
Don Franken
Fred Gaines
Barry Gribbons
Tamara Gurney
Tracy Hernandez
Marianne Haver Hill
David Honda
Marian Jocz
Lois Klavir
Richard Katz
Rebecca Lienhard
Pegi Matsuda
Walter Njboke
Paul Palkovic
John Parker
Robert Rodine
Miri Rossitto
Diana Sanchez
David Shapiro
Scott Silverstein
Jane Skeeter
Darnell Tyler
Stuart Waldman
Randy Witt
Nancy Starcyzk

Investor Spotlights
Above: Alliance President & CEO Sonya Blake making remarks at Burbank City Council on August 9, 2022 Regarding the Alliance’s Collaborations with the City of Burbank and Resources for Economic Development.
HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations. They serve approximately 40 million customers through global businesses: Wealth and Personal Banking, Commercial Banking, and Global Banking & Markets. With a network that covers 63 countries and territories in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, North America and Latin America, they provide unique expertise, capabilities, breadth and perspectives to open up new kinds of opportunities for their customers. 
Empowering Adults with Special Needs 
”The mission of The Campbell Center is to partner with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, empowering them to successfully gain independence and attain their desired outcomes through opportunity and choice. The Campbell Center has a long history and strong partnerships with the Valley for over 65 years. The organization has several programs for their Associates, including supported employment, a community integration program, a fulfillment center and the support of 3 residential homes.”
CMTC, a private non-profit corporation, was established in 1992 to provide consulting services to small and medium-sized manufacturers in Southern California. As of 2016, CMTC serves manufacturers statewide, operating through a cooperative agreement between the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) under the Department of Commerce. 
The Gelb Group is a family of companies which began with Gelb Enterprises back in 1971. The Gelb Group has grown over the years into numerous commercial Real Estate entities including: two property management companies, a hotel, a bowling alley, and a fast-food restaurant. Additionally, Gelb has ownership interests in numerous commercial office and retail properties primarily throughout the San Fernando Valley. Spearheaded by Rickey Gelb and his desire to create a quality community, the Gelb Group has evolved into a pillar in the history of many San Fernando Valley landmarks, community projects and local non-profit organizations. 
Tierra del Sol has evolved into a dynamic and vital organization, guided by the aspirations and gifts of those we serve. They have never lost sight of our mission ‘to empower people with developmental disabilities to fulfill their potential and desire to become productive citizens, who are accepted, included and valued for the contributions they make to the economic, civic, and cultural vitality of the community.’ They are proud to share our associates’ successes through Workforce Development, College to Career, and Careers in the Arts. Each and every day, they are changing the way people think about individuals with disabilities.
Investor Programs
Invest in The Alliance

In the spirit of promoting exceptional health and wellness, we must also examine the fiscal vitality of our San Fernando Valley region and uphold the investments we’ve committed to making for our thriving business economy. Financing The Valley Economic Alliance through our Annual Investor Program guarantees you unlimited access to our expert advisors, corporate partnership possibilities, and mandated resources to fund your business and advance its scope of practice. 

To continue producing our continuous schedule of complimentary advocacy programs and learning resources for the greater community, we need your help in maintaining the momentum! We invite you to connect with The Alliance and discuss the possibility of contributing to our outreach schedule of educational webinars, events, and projects. For more information, we encourage you to contact Jacqui Matsumoto, Director of Investor Relations: or (818) 379-7000.
Give Where You Live

A home can only provide the proper amount of comfort, stability, and nurturing if it’s constructed on a solid, sturdy foundation. Similarly, the San Fernando Valley business economy will continue to thrive if built upon an economic structure that’s stimulated by local businesses, and faithful consumers who patronize those businesses.

We are steadfast in our efforts to promote the growth, sustainability, and prosperity of professionals in our region, and communicating wealth equity principles has become one of our signature missions.

We implore you to become one of our distinguished “Valley Influencers” by making a charitable, tax-deductible donation to our annual programs. Through The Valley Economic Alliance’s Give Where You Live campaign, we’ll work together to advocate for the region’s financial freedom. 

Economic Development & Small Business
Visit SFV
National Wellness Month presents a transitional time between the relaxation of summer and the frenetic busyness of the fall. Now’s the time to unplug and seek havens for relaxation, reinvigoration, and self-reflection. Check out some of San Fernando Valley’s most prominent venues where residents can enjoy peaceful surroundings while reading, exercising, or quietly enjoying a favorite warm beverage with a book.

Business Assistance Program
We’re calling on local business mentors to lead our budding entrepreneurs toward a pathway to profit! The Valley is saturated with professional talent in competitive career fields such as technology, banking, and marketing, but we are seeking commitments from our region’s leaders to join The Alliance’s Business Assistance Program, where we will ask you to volunteer your time to advise upcoming business owners on managing and elevating daily operations. 

In need of a business mentor? Entrepreneurs are also invited to register for mentorship to organize personal and professional business goals for the remainder of the year. Learn more at and enroll in our Business Assistance Program here.
Tech Valley
Sherman Oaks Company Xsolla is Innovating the Gaming Landscape
Emerging tech companies located in The Valley continue to innovate the competitive landscape and redefine industry standards. Sherman Oaks-based video game company Xsolla recently announced a new way to monetize mobile gaming experiences and engage gamers in more user-friendly interactions. Through its commerce page, Xsolla allows developers of mobile games to target users and expand their direct marketing procedures through the development of storefronts and international campaigns. Additionally, “Xsolla Multi-Platform Publishing” introduces mobile gamers to newer, broader platforms, enabling an increase in revenue once they are introduced to new audiences.

Save The Date: Glendale Tech Week - October 17-20
Glendale is quickly growing into a fast paced and thriving hub for innovation and technology. Glendale Tech Week is a weeklong celebration that highlights the work that is happening in Glendale and in our local region. This year’s featured panels and discussions topics will include:
  • BioTech & HealthTech
  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • NFTs, Cryptocurrency & Blockchain
  • Cloud-Based Tech
Plus, our most popular events are back again including Mixers & Happy Hours,
Meet the Funders, Pitchfest, and our Tech Awards Closing Party.
Diverse Business Affinity Groups
We are in the business of building bridges among leaders representing the Valley’s vast multicultural communities. In addition to celebrating National Black Business Month through our Onyx African American Business Hub, we are persistent in forging bonds with various ethnic groups to diversify profitable business outcomes, which enables us to recognize our commonalities to celebrate our unique differences. We remain confident in our ability to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within The Alliance, which we also hope to instill in each of the San Fernando Valley businesses we support through our myriad of programs. 
Support us in our quest to unite the Valley’s most dedicated professionals from all walks of life. Please consider joining one or more of our affinity groups below:
Are you seeking access to capital or procurement assistance? Are you in need of exporting information or seeking guidance with financial projections for your business? Please enroll in our FREE Business Assistance Program at the link here.
Onyx African American Business Hub Series
In support of its efforts to uphold diversity, equity and inclusion in various workspaces, The Valley Economic Alliance (TVEA)’s ONYX African American Business Hub is currently honoring National Black Business Month with a weekly series outlining three pillars of entrepreneurial success.

“Black-owned businesses account for nearly 10% of all businesses and represent approximately 30% of entrepreneurial culture among all minorities,” said Sonya Kay Blake, president and CEO of The Alliance. “Delegating the month of August to commend our African American business owners for their contributions to the Valley’s economy is a necessary observance acknowledging the innovative contributions to our multicultural communities, and a platform for our ONYX Business Hub to recruit new members.”
Above: Cleveland Brown, PayScout

Sessions have included a Fireside Chat with Cleveland Brown, founder of Payscout, on August 2, which included a presentation on Business Planning with Keisha Buckanan, Regional Community Development Manager, HSBC and Hemala Ramgahan, Senior Business Relationship Manager, HSBC. On August 9, Marie Pedraza, Senior Regional Community Development Manager for HSBC and Sherman H. Belle, Senior Business Relationship Manager for HSBC, discussed Getting Personal Credit Back and Building Your Business Credit. 
Above: Keisha Buckanan, HSBC Regional Community Development Manager

The public is invited to join The Alliance team during a special roundtable on Influencer Marketing and Contracting with Kim “Kat” Shepherd and Dr. Michele Turner, Associate Vice President of the Office of Business Diversity and Economic Opportunity. This session will be held on August 23, 2022 at 10:00 am and guests can feel free to register here.

Sponsors for this month’s Onyx events include HSBC, community partner Black Women’s Network, and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. 
Education & Workforce Development
Workforce for the Future Industry Leadership Directory Registration Form

The Alliance is requesting expertise from thought leaders in the industry who are willing to partner with local colleges and universities to communicate which skills, specialties, and services you would like for future graduates to possess in our San Fernando Valley workforce. Find out how you can play a role in shaping the minds of our young people– our designated leaders-in-training– at the link here.
Livable and Sustainable Communities
Livable & Sustainable Communities Committee
Above: Committee Chair Marianne Haver Hill, Executive Director of PROPEL LA

As a special installment of this month’s Livable & Sustainable Communities Committee Meeting, The Valley Economic Alliance (TVEA) hosted its virtual Healthy, Wealthy & Wise Wealth Equity Conference on Thursday, July 21, 2022. Committee Chair Marianne Haver Hill, President of the Community Foundation of the Valleys, delivered the opening remarks addressing the symbiotic relationship between physical health and financial health, which requires breaking generational wealth gaps and providing realistic access to home ownership, job opportunities, and entrepreneurial pursuits.

Above: Board Member Amy Wiese, Kaiser Permanente and CCRC's Dr. Michael Olenick

Since residents of the Valley face varying degrees of success in navigating housing affordability, financial self-sufficiency, and job readiness, The Alliance stands ready to support wealth equity across the board. The program’s roster of expert presenters and panelists will showcase strategies for securing viable employment, launching a business, purchasing a home, and more.

“While some Valley residents are thriving financially and enjoying a bright economic outlook, others are struggling to make ends meet,” said Sonya Kay Blake, president and CEO of The Alliance. “We are committed to bring all Valley residents the critical financial tools and resources to reach financial self-sufficiency.”
During the Conference, the discussion explicated three separate themes benefiting Valley residents:

  • Healthy: A critical look at research discoveries linking health data health and economic outcomes, mental health and wellness resources, and COVID updates.

  • Wealthy: First-time assistance for home buyers, up-skilling to maximize earning potential, exploring financial literacy facts, and forecasting occupational outlook.

  • Wise: Identifying affordable childcare options, maximizing broadband internet services, and learning about business startups.

Sponsors responsible for investing in this compelling event included Pacific Federal, LLC, Union Bank, Century Housing, Kaiser Permanente, Royal Business Bank, San Fernando Community Health Center, JorgensenHR, Kulchin Ross Insurance Services, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Bank of America, UCLA Health, Child Care Resource Center, Royal Business Bank, and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Agents from MidFirst Bank were also on hand to assist participants with grant assistance and answer questions about application processes.

Interested in attending the next meeting? Register here for upcoming events and join the dialogue.
Housing Development
Homelessness has become a seemingly impenetrable crisis in the San Fernando Valley, but we are not without hope of better days to come.

Thanks to a generous donation from the late “Jeopardy!” host and philanthropist, Alex Trebek, Hope of the Valley recently opened the first-ever homeless shelter in our region. Additionally, the City of Los Angeles has recently been granted a reprieve on a deadline to rezone our Valley regions for affordable homebuilding.

Housing is necessary in the creation of sound, sustainable communities, and The Alliance is here to support residents in fighting for additional affordable housing development. Join us by participating in our Housing Creates Communities campaign here. By submitting your name to our cause, we raise our voices in protest while we fight for your rights as citizens deserving of a safe, financially manageable home in your region.
Environmental Sustainability in the Valley
On July 27, 2022, the City of Glendale was selected to receive $34.6 million from the State of California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by deploying electric buses and increasing ridership. The funds were allocated through the California State Transportation Agency’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) to support Making a Beeline for Electrification-City of Glendale and Arroyo Verdugo Communities Zoom towards Cleaner Transportation project. The project will catalyze the Beeline and La Canada Flintridge transit systems and elevate rider experience by providing information on climate impact through an app, ultimately exceeding ridership projections. Additionally, this project will streamline connectivity with commuter rails and local bus services. 
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), in conjunction with the California Climate Investments Program, has launched a Universal Basic Mobility Pilot, proving to be one of the largest initiatives in the country providing numerous transportation options to hundreds and thousands of local San Fernando Valley residents. The Pilot is currently supported by nearly $18 million in county and city funding, and is slated to introduce 250 e-bikes, nearly 100 new shared electric vehicles, and free, on-demand shuttles for commuters, among other offerings. This launch will come to fruition through a partnership with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO), which employs a Universal Basic Mobility (UBM) philosophy enabling all residents the opportunity to travel throughout the City.
Verizon Small Business Digital Ready $10,000 Grants
Participants who register for Verizon Small Business Digital Ready and complete two courses or mentoring events will be eligible to apply for a $10,000 grant.

Ask the Expert events are interactive sessions that will connect you with industry leaders in a range of topics, including, but not limited to:

Access to Capital
Best Practices in Hiring
Employment Law
Tax Implications
Understanding Financial Statements
Creating Social Media Content Templates still open!
Calendar of Events
Livable & Sustainable Communities Committee: City of LA Bureau of Street Lighting re: Electric Vehicles

Thursday, August 18, 2022
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Join us for the monthly meeting of Livable and Sustainable Communities Committee Meeting

Speaker: Miguel Sangalang – Executive Director and General Manager, Bureau of Street Lighting of the City of Los Angeles (LA Lights)
Onyx African American Business Hub

Tuesday, August 23, 2022
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Join us for our Onyx African American Business Hub for our Black Business Month Series and get help starting or growing your business in the San Fernando Valley.


  • Influencer Marketing, Kim “Kat” Shepherd

  • Winning Contracts with USC, Dr. Michele Turner, Associate Vice President, Office of Business Diversity and Economic Opportunity

All are welcomed!
Keep Los Angeles Beautiful presents: 4th Annual Virtual Beautification Conference

Thursday, August 25, 2022
10:00 AM

The 4th Annual Virtual Beautification Conference is happening on Aug 25th at 10 a.m. Join us and representatives from various agencies & industries who share in our vision of a clean, green & sustainable Los Angeles. 
Adelante Latinx Business Hub

Tuesday, September 20, 2022
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

The Valley Economic Alliance is committed to closing the information gap, capital gap and network gap experienced by many Latino and Latina businesses through our Adelante Business Hub. Join us to get help starting or growing your business in the San Fernando Valley. Join us in this session for a Fireside Chat with Influencers, and a discussion about building business credit with Armida Colmenares-Stafford of Pacific Premier Bank.
LA Optimized: Accelerator Academy

Thursday, October 13, 2022
10:00 AM

The Bureau of Contract Administration will be holding the next series of AccessingLA, RiseWith, on October 13th. AccessingLA's aim is to provide opportunities for building meaningful relationships, gaining valuable perspectives and accessing an abundance of resources to promote economic development and contracting with the City of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
The City of Los Angeles Green Business Program

Enrolling Now!

This program provides free consultation and resources, including rebates, for businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact while also saving on costs.