Metro Moves Forward to Help Small Businesses During Crenshaw Construction

In an unprecedented move forward, the Metro Board of Directors recently awarded a two year contract to help small businesses impacted by Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project construction.

“Rail construction is always challenging and it’s particularly difficult for nearby businesses,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “That’s why we are committed to standing with these merchants during the whole construction process.”

The Metro pilot Business Solution Center will provide hands-on case management services for small businesses along the Crenshaw corridor between 48th and 60th streets and other areas impacted by construction activities. Services will include marketing help, business plan development, financial planning, small business operations advice and legal assistance counseling. In addition, the center will help small businesses apply for capital via existing loan programs. It also will help them gain certification as small, disadvantaged, disabled, veteran-owned, minority-owned and/or woman-owned businesses.

This contract is the newest addition to a comprehensive initiative to support small businesses along the Crenshaw Line. Under the newly established $10 million business interruption fund, some businesses will be eligible to receive a maximum of $50,000 annually, not to exceed 60 percent of their business revenue loss. To qualify, owners must have no more than 25 employees; have been in operation for two years, are in good standing with local, state and federal tax requirements and are able to produce financial record demonstrating the loss of business revenue directly related to the construction are eligible for assistance. Also, at the 9th Annual Taste of Soul festival Metro kicked off its Eat, Shop, Play Crenshaw campaign. So far more than 1,000 people have pledged to buy local and visit area businesses.

“This Business Solution Center – while not solving all problems – is an important first step toward helping the local business community survive and thrive during the difficult days. We are happy that we could make this happen,” said the Supervisor.

The Business Solution Center is expected to open in late November, 2014 and will be located at the Los Angeles Urban League, 3450 Mount Vernon Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90008.

From Plan to Project: Rail to River Moves Forward

After heartfelt testimony from residents and environmental advocates calling for the revitalization of an 8-mile stretch of blighted abandoned railway in South Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted to allocate $2.8 million for pre-construction activities including architectural design work and environmental studies.

By acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has championed the project for more than two years, Metro catapulted Rail to River, a plan to convert the stretch of unused and railway into a greenbelt with a recreational walking and bike path, from a cherished and long-held idea into an actual project.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas & Rail to River supporters at the October 23, 2014 Metro board meeting.

“Today we set the foundation for what I know will become a wonderful asset to the community,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “It is simply unacceptable that we have allowed blight to not only remain, but flourish along this property, and I am gratified that my colleagues on the Metro Board were supportive of this game-changing project.”

As envisioned, Rail to River will revitalize the abandoned rail road track connecting the Los Angeles River to the Fair View Heights Station of the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail; the right of way runs through Huntington Park, South Los Angeles and the City of Inglewood.

Over the past two years, community members have come together to envision a walking path and bike trail that will connect this section of Los Angeles—which includes some of the densest and impoverished communities—to the transit system and the L.A. River.

Before the vote Thursday, advocates called on the Board to approve the project, noting that the responsibility for addressing the blight rests with Metro, which owns the property, and positing that investment by the agency would inspire other funders to follow suit.

The California Black Women’s Health Project (CBWHP) also noted that the site of the project is located in an area of Los Angeles with a meagre amount of green space.

“South L.A. residents face high rates of obesity, high blood pressure and other chronic health concerns, and Rail to River will create a vital recreation facility in the most park-poor are of the City, where there are only 1.7 acres of open space for every 1,000 residents,” wrote CEO Gloria Morrow.

Pacoima Beautiful, an environmental education and advocacy group, T.R.U.S.T. South LA and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust also threw their support behind the project.

“There is much work to be done to provide the amount of green space South LA needs and deserves,” wrote Alma Bokde, executive director of the Trust. “…a truly transformative, game changing project like the Rail to River Active Transportation Corridor project is needed to [catalyze the creation] a green backbone for South Los Angeles.

Across the country, abandoned rail right-of-ways have been turned into pedestrian access and bicycle routes — perhaps most notably on the “High Line” in New York City, which has catalyzed over $2 Billion in private investment around the park.

The Whittier Greenway Trails, and on other Metro funded projects such as the Metro Orange Line, the Bellflower Bike Trail, and the Chandler Bikeway in Burbank are local examples.

Health Technology Revolutionizes Patient Care

Los Angeles County’s Department of Health Services is installing a new countywide electronic health record system that could be a model for health care organizations across the country.

“Our patients simply need and deserve world class technology to protect their health,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The system, called the Online Real-time Centralized Health Information Database, or ORCHID, is the first uniform, standardized, and fully integrated electronic health record technology to be released countywide.

“Having one system will bring us together as a single integrated system,” DHS Director Mitchell Katz said.

With ORCHID, nurses will be able to use bar code technology when administering medications to patients. Bar code scanners will be available in patient rooms, allowing bedside bar code scanning. The nurse scans the bar code on the patient’s wrist and the bar coded medication label, then administers the medication. Among other benefits, the ORCHID system will help verify that the right medication was given to the right patient in the right dose at the right time.

Each patient will have a unique bar code that exists only on his or her wristband. The system alerts the nurse if the medication order is expired, discontinued or if the wrong medication is given to a patient. The bar code technology will reduce the possibility of patient care errors with every pill.

“The new system will result in improved quality of care, improved efficiency of care, and an innovative system that can serve as a model across the country,” the Supervisor said.

Recently, the pharmacy team in Los Angeles County completed the task of scanning every unique medication for the Department of Health Services pharmacies to capture the bar codes into the ORCHID database. The process, completed by hand, included 50,000 scans.

The new system will launch on November 1 at Harbor UCLA Medical Center and at the Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center on February 1, 2015. The initial launch will be followed by the LAC+USC Medical Center on May 1 2015, the High Desert Regional Health Center Cluster on August 1, 2015, the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center on November 1, 2015, and the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center Cluster on February 1, 2016.

“We are dismantling the digital divide of health care that exists in our communities,” the Supervisor said.

Dreamfield at Roosevelt Park

Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Dream Field Dedication

Built in the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt Park in the Florence Firestone section of Los Angeles is one of the oldest parks in the county. But two new, state of the art baseball fields now make it one of the best places for children and families to enjoy a game of ball.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, in partnership with the LA84 Foundation, the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation and Security Benefit Life Insurance recently dedicated Dodgers Dreamfields at Roosevelt Park. This marks the Second District’s 8th and 9th Deamfields, with baseball diamonds now at Campanella, Lennox, two in Athens, Mona, two at Jesse Owens, and at Ted Watkins Parks.

“We have made sure that investing in this community is a priority,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Together, we can and will make sure our children and families enjoy the fields of their dreams.”Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Dream Field Dedication

The two Dreamfields at Franklin D. Roosevelt Park include newly installed side and outfield fencing, newly replaced and refurbished backstop mesh and posts, newly installed metal dugout roofs, new laser leveled infield surface including new infield mix and bases, new turf infield and watering system, new laser-leveled outfield surface including new sprinkler heads and new sod, new remote controlled solar powered scoreboard and field signage.

With a new field in a well-lighted place, youngsters can practice their skills in a community setting, with coaches and parents all enjoying the amenities.

“With these fields, we celebrate beautiful sports facilities; we celebrate teamwork and a child’s first homerun,” said the Supervisor. “We celebrate coaches who instill a work ethic in their players and those skills will last a lifetime.”

Eat, Shop, Play Crenshaw Campaign Launches

Eat,Play,CrenshawMetro and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas launched the Eat, Shop and Play Crenshaw campaign recently at the 9th annual Taste of Soul festival to support businesses impacted by the construction of the Crenshaw/LAX rail line.

Approximately 40 businesses, ranging from hair salons to restaurants to furniture stores, participated by showing their goods at booths during the Taste of Soul festival.

As part of the campaign, residents have been asked to “Take the Pledge” to support local Crenshaw area businesses, especially the businesses impacted by Crenshaw Line construction. By committing to “Take the Pledge,” consumers eat at local restaurants, shop at local stores, and play at local entertainment venues in the Crenshaw Corridor.

“We want residents to come and support our local businesses,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This is a true partnership with our local entrepreneurs. We know that the construction has made it less convenient for patrons to shop on Crenshaw, but we need residents to support these businesses now more than ever so they continue to thrive over the next few years.”

Consumers can also visit to learn about featured participating Eat, Shop, Play Crenshaw businesses.

“It will bring visibility to the store,” said Gerold Duncan, owner of Malai Hair on Crenshaw Boulevard. “Anything to get the community involved to patronize your own stores would be helpful. If I can’t survive you are hurting opportunities for us to put back into the community. I grew up in this community and I understand that is how you make a community thrive with partnerships with local businesses. ”

The Eat, Shop and Play Crenshaw campaign is just another program designed to help boost local businesses. Recently, the 13-member Metro Board of Directors unanimously approved a groundbreaking program designed to help businesses along Crenshaw Boulevard struggling with economic losses due to construction of the Crenshaw/LAX rail line.

Under the newly established $10 million-business interruption fund, eligible small businesses along the corridor will be able to receive a maximum of $50,000 annually, not to exceed 60 percent of their business revenue loss. To qualify, owners must have no more than 25 employees, have been in operation for two years, be in good standing with local, state and federal tax requirements and be able to produce financial record demonstrating the loss of business revenue directly related to the construction are eligible for assistance.