Newsletter December 2021 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
  • Message From The CEO
  • Breaking News
  • Feature Stories

  • Small Business
  • Making an Impact
  • Investor Spotlight
Message From The CEO - A Year-In-Review
Dear Friends, 

Looking back on 2021, the year was filled with lessons in resilience and perseverance against the odds. Together, we’ve not only managed to reach the end of a breakthrough year with our heads held high, but we’ve also overcome stifling restrictions placed on our local economy due to COVID mandates. The challenges of the past year make us all the more grateful for our many accomplishments at this year-end. And we’re thankful for our community - our Board, investors, volunteers, and partners - who all contributed to advancing the work.

In this last newsletter issue of 2021, we are pleased to bring you timely and relevant updates to help our region prosper and grow.

Breaking News
Now is the time to take action if you would like to participate in the Small Business Administration's COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Applicants must apply for the program by December 31, 2021 at 8:59 PM Pacific Time to be considered. Businesses with existing EIDL loans may also apply for an increased amount before that time. To learn more about the program visit the SBA website.
For help applying, please consider enrolling in our Business Assistance Program.

The Homeless Hiring Tax Credit is a new program recently signed into law (AB 150) that makes available $30 million in tax credits in taxable years from January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2026. The tax credit will be available for hiring employees who are currently or recently homeless (within 180 days of hire) or receiving services from a homeless service provider. Employers may receive a tax credit of up to $10,000 per eligible employee, up to $30,000 total per taxable year.

Feature Stories
Alliance Installs a New Board of Directors
On December 16, The Alliance presented it’s 27th Annual Board of Directors Meeting and Installation at the Valley Relics Museum, amidst the museum’s collection of Valley memorabilia. Chaired by Fred Gaines of Gaines & Stacey LLP, the 82-member Board was inducted by Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin. Among the representatives from The Alliance’s five partner cities who made remarks and presented their annual report videos included Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes, Calabasas Councilmember James Bozajian, Glendale Mayor Paula Devine, Councilmember Cindy Montañez. The Alliance presented its inaugural Civic Innovation Award to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was represented by Leila Lee, Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.

In addition to inducting new and returning Board Members and Officers, The Alliance also recognized retiring Board members and Honorary Board members who have passed the baton to the current Board to continue the work of fostering regional economic impact.

Alliance Sponsors Housing Conference
On Friday, December 3, The Valley Economic Alliance co-sponsored the Community Foundation of the Valleys’ multi-sector Homelessness and Housing Conference to open dialogue about the availability of workforce housing in the San Fernando Valley. Los Angeles Pierce College served as the venue as nearly 100 guests filled the room to engage stakeholders regarding this critical community need. 

MWD Announces Drought Emergency
This past November, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an emergency drought declaration for the entire state to address detrimental strains on our natural water resources. In response, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced the drought’s debilitating environmental effect on the San Fernando Valley, particularly areas dependent on the State Water Project.

Small Business
Business Assistance Success Stories
To see how we can help your business grow, complete the Intake Form by clicking the button below.
Business Location and Growth
If you are seeking ways to build your growing business in the year ahead, the San Fernando Valley region is the right place to do that. Our large and diverse economy, with a strong labor force and available commercial real estate, all you need is the right support network to access opportunities that will help you increase revenues, decrease expenses, and access labor, capital, and real estate.

Learn more about our five partner cities:

Business Thought Leaders
The Alliance hosts convenings to highlight thought leaders on relevant Valley business topics.
Juan Millan, Los Angeles Coastal Area Labor Market Consultant, California Employment Development Department’s (EDD) spoke at our Education & Workforce Committee meeting on December 8. Juan discussed the condition of the labor market in the Valley, the types of positions Valley employers are currently recruiting for, and the certifications and degrees most in demand in the Valley right now.

Making An Impact
Nichole Ipach has been appointed as Vice President for University Relations and Advancement with California State University Northridge. With over 20 years of advancement, fundraising and communications experience with her most recent position as the Vice President for University Advancement at California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) since 2013, Nicole will begin her new post January 1, 2022.

Investor Spotlight
Recognizing our Leadership Givers
Leadership takes many forms at The Alliance. One of the critical ways that leaders help support our mission is especially important to recognize at this gift-giving time of year, our generous givers. At The Alliance, we call our corporate donors, “investors” because they are choosing to make financial investments that yield a return in healthier neighborhoods, a more vibrant economy, and a stronger San Fernando Valley region. We thank them for their leadership giving and the programs we have been able to present owing to their support:

With support from Wells Fargo, The Alliance has launched the “Valley Main Street” Place-Based Revitalization Program, beginning with a pilot program “Uplift Lake View Terrace”. By convening government, nonprofit, and business leaders, The Alliance is a catalyst for re-envisioning and revitalizing under-invested small business districts in the Valley to increase employment opportunities, promote home ownership, and improve the attractiveness of the area.

The program consists of:
  • Business Assistance for local small businesses
  • Business Attraction to vacant commercial spaces
  • Small Business District improvements
  • Programming and District Promotion to increase visitors to the area

The project will result in a Revitalization Toolkit that details best practices for economic development that can be replicated by business owners and community leaders in Valley Main Streets throughout the region.
The Alliance is committed to promoting an environmentally sustainable San Fernando Valley and we acknowledge LADWP for its leadership support for our endeavors. Together, we presented a Train-the-Trainer program for local technical assistance providers to learn about utilities programs and rebates that can help local, small businesses reduce operating costs. We also partnered in presenting a Sustainability Forum, where local small businesses learned how they can save money while operating more sustainably. In addition to our collaborative sustainability work, LADWP is instrumental in advancing our programs in procurement and contracting, workforce development, and tech infrastructure.
We thank the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and Pacific Western Bank for their leadership support of our ongoing economic mobility initiatives. This funding is critical to fund general operations, along with important initiatives like our Business Assistance Program, COVID Recovery Resources, Valley Capital Conference, and Housing Creates Communities campaign, among other programs. We’re honored to be selected as one of their nonprofit partners promoting economic development.

We thank all of the following investors for their invaluable support:
Associates Program

Manufacturers Bank has been operating mainly in Southern California, consistently delivering tailored financial solutions that enhance the economic well-being of its middle market customers. Bauer Financial Inc., an independent bank rating company, has awarded a depository rating, Excellent 5 Star, to Manufacturers Bank.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Manufacturers Bank operates from branch offices in Beverly Hills, Brea, Encino, Glendale, Little Tokyo, Newport Beach, San Jose, Torrance and Warner Center. 

Founded in 2003, Optical Zonu Corporation manufactures a wide range of digital and analog RF-Over-Fiber products. The company is owned by management and invests (almost) all its profit in R&D. Serving both commercial and government applications they are continuously innovating and developing solutions for wired and wireless networks, satellite and telemetry/tracking earth stations, Broadcast and Public Safety networks. Optical Zonu’s fast track product development ensures on time delivery of reliable, cost-effective, standard product as well as custom solutions to meet their client’s needs. Optical Zonu provides full design and support along with on-site deployment services.
Invest in The Alliance
Make your impact by funding our job retention and attraction programs while receiving valuable recognition and benefits. Contact Jacqui Matsumoto at [email protected] or click below for more information.

Valley Visionaries
The Alliance is proud to have many of the region’s brightest minds and most passionate influencers in our network of investors. Recently, The Alliance interviewed several Valley Visionaries about their long-standing involvement with us to hear first hand how these leaders were inspired to get involved. We invite you to meet these Valley Visionaries, learn why they continue to play a role in advancing our mission, and consider how you might get involved with The Alliance in the year ahead.

To find out how you can become one of our Valley Visionaries and view our list of investors, visit our website here.
Sandra Rodriguez
Program Coordinator
City of Glendale

Forrest Hill 
Vice President

How Did You Engage The Alliance This Year?
Which of our programs did you participate in, in 2021?
Committee Meeting
Educational Webinars
Investor Program
Housing Creates Communities
Business Assistance Program
Give Where You Live Campaign
Valley Main Streets Place-Based Revitalization
Additional programs are being planned for 2022. Join our mailing list at

Please email any program suggestions you may have to [email protected] by December 31, 2021.
Join Jerry O’Connell, Master of Ceremonies at our 26th Annual Valley of the Stars Gala.

Awards will be presented live at the Castaway in Burbank and feature our honorees who have helped the San Fernando Valley

Honorees to date:
Sports & Entertainment - Eric Dickerson
Jane and Bert Boeckman Business Leadership - Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt
Humanitarian - Ken Craft of Hope of the Valley 
By participating in our Give Where You Live campaign, you become a Valley influencer who leads the way toward a brighter future for our region. If you have the means to share in this important work that builds all of our neighborhoods into thriving communities, then there is no better time to invest than now and no better place than The Valley Economic Alliance.
Meet the Team
Sonya Kay Blake,
President & CEO
Both of my parents are from
Jamaica. Yah man!
Erica Gass,
Vice President of Operations
My favorite time of the day is 5am!
Jacqui Matsumoto
Director of Investor Relations
Native of Hawaii, Aloha!
Angela Taslakian
Special Projects Assistant
Enjoys baking a variety of sweets!
Brett Dickstein
Business Advisor
Lived abroad for 1/3rd of his life and has worked in or visited every continent except Antarctica.
Chris Shimizu
Business Advisor
Solo traveled for 3 months throughout
Southern Europe.
Heather Ripkowski 
Graphic Design & Social Media Manager
Volunteered with a dolphin rescue and rehabilitation center since 2009.