Bill Watanabe, chairman and president of the Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund, gives a presentation at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute. (Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)


Over 40 Little Tokyo stakeholders filled the hall of the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute on Saturday, Nov. 16, to discuss a new community development strategy emerging from the Japanese American community: the Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund (LTCIF).

It has been over a year since LTCIF was first introduced to the South Bay community. When LTCIF President Bill Watanabe asked, “Who came to last year’s meeting?” over half the room raised their hands. The Fund’s organizing committee worked with lawyer Brett Heeger to solidify the Fund’s purpose, structure and investment options. According to Watanabe, the Fund has grown significantly over the past months:

Certified Financial Planner Matt Kobata was among the speakers.

On July 30, 2019 the Commissioner of the California Department of Business Oversight officially recognized the Fund — allowing LTCIF as a social purpose corporation to sell two classes of shares directly to California residents: Class A, which requires a purchase of $1,000 for one share, and Class B, which requires a minimum of purchase of $10,000 for two shares (with each share costing $5,000).

The Fund has until July 31, 2020 to reach a minimum subscription $500,000. LTCIF has more than 25 investors who have invested over $350,000 in shares. Once the Fund reaches $450,000, we have a commitment of a $50,000 from a prospective investor to help us reach the minimum.

LTCIF will be looking to investors to elect a board in the upcoming months. Class A shareholders get one-third of the seats on the board; while class B investors get two-thirds.

The Fund is researching sites in Little Tokyo that can be served through the Fund’s purpose.

Click here to read the full recap.

Steve Nagano, Little Tokyo Community Investment Fund director and secretary, whose documentary about the future of Little Tokyo was screened during the presentation.

Several attendees raised a call to action: “Let’s build something together greater than what I can do as an individual…There are many examples in our community of where we’ve pulled our money together to build something for the whole,” remarked Steve Nagano.

Investors like Alan Nishio also shared the importance of preserving Little Tokyo in order to be a model for future generations: “This is what we’ve passed on to you…We expect you to carry it on.”

All attendees were given a Prospectus, the Offering Circular (or Memorandum) that details the Fund’s plan, structure, risks, and more. It also includes important eligibility requirements for each class of shares. One-on-one consultations and networking commenced after the Q&A.

Prospective investors are invited to request an Offering Circular on LTCIF’s website ( or even request presentations for their respective community organizations and groups. The Fund also welcomes volunteers who can share their expertise on community outreach, marketing, finance and real estate. For more information, you can contact the Fund at

Thank you again to the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute and all the attendees last Saturday! We hope you can join us in these efforts to preserve and protect Little Tokyo.

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