The Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund (LTCIF) Board of Directors recently held their second annual investors’ meeting to hold elections for the board and provide an update on the current activities of the still rather new LTCIF program. 

Various board members took part virtually in the annual meeting and reiterated the fund’s goal of purchasing commercial buildings that can support legacy small businesses.

According to LTCIF Board President Bill Watanabe, “LTCIF has continued to increase the number of investors who want to help Little Tokyo retain its legacy small businesses and to fight gentrification; the need is even greater due to the negative impact COVID-19 has had on small businesses in the community. We now have, as of the end of June 2021, 77 shareholders who have invested $741K into the fund, which is a significant amount to help us become commercial property owners that can assist small businesses in Little Tokyo. 

“However, we still need more investors who can see the vision of being property owners and being able to control the land-use to help preserve our historic ethnic and cultural neighborhood.”

Professor Dean Toji, who teaches Asian American studies at CSU Long Beach and is a member of the LTCIF Board, added that the LTCIF has reached the halfway point to the goal of raising $1.5 million, which would allow the fund to purchase property with a smaller debt margin.  

The annual meeting reported that an offer to purchase a property in Little Tokyo had been made this past spring but the owner decided to cancel the sale.

There were also updates provided on the current state of Little Tokyo businesses and how various segments of the community have rallied with assistance programs and food purchases to help keep many of the restaurants open, though sadly some businesses had to close permanently.

The investment period of LTCIF has closed as of July 31, but interested potential investors are encouraged to visit the website as another investment period will be made available in the near future. Midori Mizuhara, an urban planning designer and one of the younger members of the board, stated that she hopes more people will invest in the future of Little Tokyo, especially those of the younger generations, so that our heritage and cultural community will continue for generations to come.

Interested persons may visit the Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund website (http://www.littletokyocif.com/) for more information and may use the “Contact Us” link to contact LTCIF via email.

— Bill Watanabe

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