Construction has started on a new center to provide small business assistance and workforce development services in the Pacoima area.

The Pacoima Entrepreneurship and Training Center will be operated by the Valley Economic Development Center, a Sherman Oaks nonprofit that provides financing and other assistance for small business owners to create new jobs.

Partial funding for the center came from a $3.75 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Ground was broken Sept. 26 on the 13420 Van Nuys Blvd. center.

The facility will provide workforce development services to unemployed, low-income individuals in the community, and small-business and incubator services to emerging entrepreneurs.

Establishing and growing small businesses is a key to job creation in economically distressed areas such as Pacoima, said VEDC President Roberto Barragan.

“It is necessary to nurture entrepreneurs and small business owners to increase this community’s capacity for economic equality and an improved quality of life,” he said, in a prepared statement.

The center is scheduled to open in May.