Magic Johnson Helps Inner City Entrepreneurs

Earvin "Magic" Johnson was a Keynote Speaker at an Event Monday Night designed to Bring Growing Inner City Companies and Potential Investors Together

He’s a basketball legend, former player and part owner of the L.A. Lakers. He's also a cinema and coffee-shop entrepreneur.

But on Monday night to 100 business owners and dozens of prospective investors, Earvin “Magic” Johnson was one of them, and in a small way, the tall guy was jealous.

"What you could do is rub elbows with them. Trade information. Tell them what you’re doing, what your business is, why you’re trying to get capital. Probably how much, what's your business strategy. You can do everything in a day that I had to wait for years to do," according to Johnson, keynote speaker.

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) teamed up with the Small Business Administration, and Bank of America to invite than 100 growing inner city companies from around the nation to pitch their ideas to potential investors here in Los Angeles.

The giant pitch meeting will be held on Tuesday. Monday night's event was an informal meet and greet, so everyone could get a chance to know one another.

Yossi Shimony of Pacoima wants to hire ten more people at his 19,000 square foot business which installs and maintains fitness equipment.

"Today the banks are not our friends. They don’t support us, and we need outside sources," according to Yossi Shimony, of Pronto Installation.

Anne Phillips her environmentally-friendly gardening firm is perfectly positioned to grow.

"We do garden maintenance like regular gardeners, except we only use electric equipment," says Anne Phillips, of Go Green Gardening.

ICIC's goal is to educate investment-ready companies about growth capital, and match them with providers of capital financing. Participating companies are from the technology, consumer goods, business and professional services, healthcare and manufacturing sectors.

Bank of America wants to help.

"We’re targeting urban business with revenues between $2 million and $30 million, and those companies we really think are the companies that will pull us out of the current economy," according to Edward Powers, of Bank of America.

"Investors are hungry for companies they haven’t seen before, that they think have growth potential," says Deborah Shufrin, of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City.

On Tuesday every one of those businesses, including Pronto Installations, will be presented in a "pitch" lasting no more than ten minutes.

Owners are hopeful the "spirit of Magic" will inspire a lasting connection.

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