Leaders on the Move to Upgrade LA

(left to right) Gloria Gray, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Monique Earl, and Dominique DiPrima at the African-American History Month Business Breakfast. All photos by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

More than 150 small business owners, faith leaders and community leaders gathered for the fourth annual “Meet the Decision Makers” African-American History Month Business Breakfast, at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, to celebrate and learn from three dynamic officials – L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Metropolitan Water District Chairwoman Gloria Gray, and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation Assistant General Manager, Monique Earl. Mike Fong,  Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) Board President, as well as representatives from the offices of Senator Kamala Harris, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and State Controller Betty Yee were present. KJLH radio personality, Dominique DiPrima served as mistress of ceremony.

Meet the Decision Makers strives to connect small and minority business owners with real contracting opportunities in the public and private sectors. In 2016, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas introduced a motion for the County to have one billion, 25 percent, of its procurement to be made available to small businesses by 2020. Upgrade LA also announced that Skanska USA has spent over $200 Million dollars with minority and disadvantaged business owners over the past five years in the LA region.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks to 150 small business owners.

In a call to action to those in the room, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said “Bureaucracy is structured to create barriers to bring resources to small businesses.”  He encouraged small business leaders and participants to “show up, lead, and make sure that we have an opportunity to hear from you to impact meaningful change throughout Los Angeles.”

Chairwoman Gloria Gray shared words of wisdom with the audience, stating that “Water should be a way of life. Water conservation is very important” and Monique Earl emphasized that, “Transportation sits at the center of social justice in which leadership matters, representation matters, having power matters. The question is, what are you going to do with it?”

Meet the Decision Makers was established as a public forum in 2014 to connect elected officials and major public sector decision-makers with small business owners, faith leaders and engaged citizens.