Week of February 6, 2023

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Meet Atsushi Nakagawa, former aspiring rock star and founder of Amazake Co. Atsushi moved to the United States after obtaining his degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tokyo. While working in the automobile industry, he started experiencing skin eczema, which did not go away with traditional treatments. This led him to experiment with alternative wellness practices and rediscover the health benefits of Japanese fermented foods. 

Driven to experiment further, Atsushi (pictured above) started to make homemade Japanese rice bran pickles (nukazuke), miso, amazake, and koji. He returned to Japan to become an apprentice at a miso/koji microbrewery, where he worked side by side with great fermenters. In May 2019, he established his fermented healthy food business Amazake Co. in Los Angeles. 

His first challenge was to find a way to scale his production. He joined the Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA) Seasoned Accelerator program, which is funded by EWDD through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. The program helped him grow his business.

“Aside from the program providing weekly webinars where I learned what I needed to prepare and do in order to increase my portfolio of local buyers and from the support that I received from both of my coaches, my coaches also gave me some great self-care tools that helped me to prioritize myself more and not only on driving my business,” he said. 

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In partnership with Council District 4, EWDD held an orientation to introduce local businesses to Jobs and Economic Development Incentive Zones, also known as JEDI Zones. Spearheaded by Council President Paul Krekorian (CD2), the program is designed to benefit existing and emerging businesses by leveraging economic incentives that result in lower operating expenses, increased profits and job creation.

Held at the Newcastle Elementary School Auditorium, CD4 Councilmember Nithya Raman (pictured above), along with members of her team and EWDD staff, met with business owners located in the Reseda Boulevard JEDI Zone.

"The City's JEDI Zones encourage inclusive economic growth through the expansion, attraction and retention of small, for-profit businesses in areas of greatest need. The JEDI Zones' proactive solutions to issues affecting small businesses save entrepreneurs money and time to enable them to thrive,” said Vanessa Willis, who leads EWDD’s JEDI Zone team.

Stay tuned for the next JEDI Zone tour near you.

Learn more about JEDI Zones 


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If you have any questions, comments, or wish to have a contribution considered for inclusion in an upcoming "Updates," please feel free to contact Jamie Francisco at (213) 744-9048 or Jamie.Francisco@lacity.org