Kimberly and Simon Blattner of Sonoma have contributed $50,000 to La Luz Center, seed money to establish a loan fund that will encourage Latino entrepreneurship.
The gift is one of largest donations ever made to La Luz, the Springs-based non profit that educates and empowers members of the immigrant community.
The money will be used specifically to support small businesses, Simon Blattner said, using the example of a business owner who wants to expand a landscaping business but needs $1,000 for equipment. “He would probably not qualify at a bank, and the process could be intimidating,” Blattner said. “We want to create a place where a person can go and feel encouraged and respected.”
Development of small businesses is good for Sonoma Valley and will foster Latino leadership in the community, Blattner said.
As a past managing partner for the SF Local Development Corporation, Blattner had the gratifying experience of assisting minority entrepreneurs with their business plans and obtaining permanent financing for their enterprises. He noted that not only did this process change individual lives, but also contributed to a thriving business climate.
The Blattners’ gift was announced at the last board meeting chaired by Kimberly, who served as La Luz’s President of the Board of Directors for two years. Simon has served on the La Luz Advisory Council since 2006 and is dedicated to giving motivated entrepreneurs the opportunity for small loans.
Kimberly stated, “The mission of La Luz is to empower our community through education, self-advocacy and leadership. We see this program as a significant tool for empowerment.”
Executive Director Juan Hernandez, enthusiastic about the opportunity for La Luz clients, said, “We are grateful to Simon and Kimberly Blattner for their confidence in La Luz’s programs and our ability to connect with developing business ideas.”
While this gift is restricted and won’t cover daily operating costs, Hernandez said, “it will add a much needed component to our community and to our objectives at La Luz Center.”
Photo: La Luz Executive Director Juan Hernandez accepts a big gift from Kimberly and Simon Blattner.