HOLLYWOOD—The Armenian National Committee of Hollywood on August 28 hosted a small business tax and opportunities seminar in collaboration with California State Controller John Chiang. The event, which brought together over a hundred business owners mostly from the local greater Hollywood area, also drew attendees from as far away as Glendale, the San Fernando Valley, Long Beach and beyond. The seminar was held at Karapetian Hall in the heart of the Little Armenia.
“As you know, the current state of the economy is very harsh. The road to recovery requires the collaborative effort that we are seeing today to ensure the success of small businesses in our communities”, said Rostom Sarkissian who helped lead the organizing committee on behalf of the ANC Hollywood along with recent Armenian National Committee-Western Region (ANC-WR) intern, Srbui Karapetian.
These sentiments were echoed by State Controller Chiang.
“These times are difficult across the board for the State and for business owners. Business owners face tremendous responsibilities that include providing for families, caring for customers and supporting our communities. Events like this small business opportunities seminar allow the State to assist small businesses by helping them avoid obstacles while meeting what is required,” noted Chiang.
The three panel event featured a first panel of experts from the Board of Equalization, the Franchise Tax Board (FTB), and the Employment Development Department who discussed tax compliance issues as well as federal and state resources available to small businesses. This was followed by a panel of specialists from the FTB as well as the US Small Business Administration
(SBA) and the Santa Monica College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) who discussed tax credits and access to capital as well as ways of expanding businesses through economic stimulus opportunities and enterprise zones.
The third panel presenters were representatives from the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Metropolitan Water District, and the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles reviewed opportunities for small businesses to contract with their agencies and large enterprises.
“I am very pleased with the level of organization of the event. It is very impressive to see the revitalized ANC Hollywood doing so much in such a little time”, said Aida Dimejian, a Board Member with the ANC-WR.
Dimejian helped open the morning’s event and introduced California State Assembly Member Kevin de Leon, whose district includes Little Armenia. De Leon, in turn, introduced California State Controller John Chiang emphasizing the Controller’s responsiveness to the community and the unique opportunity the event offered to ask questions of their elected official.
“It is good to see people here today engaged in discussion on how our State government can provide small businesses with information that can help them save money. With the Obama economic stimulus package being signed this year, now is the time to get an SBA loan and the SBA and SBDC were here today to answer questions from business owners to help facilitate the process,” noted Shahe Mazbanian from the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce (AACC), who moderated the first panel of the event. The AACC Little Armenia Chapter co-sponsored the event with the ANC Hollywood.
In addition to the organizations participating in the panels, the event drew support from a large cross section of the greater Hollywood community including organizations such as the Thai Community Development Center, the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Consumer Action, and the Armenian National Committee Professional Network. The offices of California State Assembly Member Kevin de Leon and California State Senator Curren Price as well as Los Angeles City Council Member Eric Garcetti lent their support to the event along with the East and Greater Griffith Park Hollywood Neighborhood Councils.
“We, at the Thai Chamber of Commerce, are glad that we had the opportunity to work with the Armenian community on this event, especially since we are neighbors in Hollywood. This type of cooperation between the ANC Hollywood, the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce, the Controller’s office, the Thai CDC and the many supporting organizations is what we need to build up our friendship, and to help our communities in this difficult economy,” noted Don Chukiat, Vice President of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
In making the event as welcoming as possible, the ANC Hollywood provided for and reached out to local area businesses that generously donated breakfast and lunch. Participants were welcomed by ANC Hollywood volunteers from local area high schools and universities, many of whom are residents of Hollywood.
“It is very exciting to be here helping out. It is rewarding seeing that the people whose shops I visit every day are here today and that I can help serve the community in these tough economic times”, said Luiza Kirakosyan, senior at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High-school who helped facilitate audience participation in the question and answer sessions during the panel discussions.
“It was very important for the ANC Hollywood to host this event in our broader effort to help the community, both Armenian and non-Armenian. We look forward to our next event and we certainly look forward to expanding our outreach efforts in the months ahead”, said Elli Menounou who heads up community relations for the ANC Hollywood Executive Committee.
The ANC of Hollywood promotes greater understanding of issues of concern to the area’s Armenian American community and strives to increase Armenian American civic participation at the grassroots and public policy levels.