Roberto Barragan, president of the Valley Economic Development Center, will take over direct responsibility for lending following the agency’s loss of a bid for a lucrative contract to manage a regional SBA program. The decision follows the exit of Vladimir Victorio, the former director of lending for the VEDC, who next week joins Mission Valley Bank. Victorio had overseen the agency’s lending activities, but with fewer offices now requiring supervision Barragan said he would not replace that position and instead, take over lending responsibilities directly. “The board’s direction has been to have the VEDC do more lending,” said Barragan. “I’ll have fewer offices and I’m going to focus on lending.” Last month, the VEDC learned that the U.S. Small Business Administration had chosen Long Beach Community College District to manage a $2.7 million Small Business Development Center Program. The VEDC, which was competing against Long Beach for the contract, had been operating a number of the program’s centers as part of a contract the agency had with California State University Northridge, since the university secured the SBA contract in 2003. The CSUN alliance had provided $1.4 million annually to the VEDC to operate program offices in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Glendale, South Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Those offices will now be closed. At the same time, Barragan said that the closures will allow the VEDC to return its focus to the San Fernando Valley. He said he has been actively soliciting bank partners including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual and plans to ramp up the VEDC’s lending activity significantly. “I’ve had discussions with all the banks in the Valley about a major push into lending,” said Barragan. “I think we’re going to be getting more loans done in the Valley by banks and by ourselves than we ever have before.” Meanwhile, the VEDC has finally broken ground on a home for the Pacoima Development Federal Credit Union, after months of snafus and red tape. Pueblo Contracting has been tapped to renovate the facility, a former pawn shop on Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima, and, barring additional problems, should open there sometime in the second quarter. The credit union has been operating out of the VEDC’s Pacoima offices since it received regulatory approvals. In recent weeks, Wells Fargo donated an existing lease on a former Wells mortgage office in Lake View Terrace, to the VEDC for use for the credit union. That lease will be available to the PDFCU free of charge for its duration, another two years, and will provide a retail location at Osborne Street and Foothill Boulevard. “We’re talking with (Los Angeles City Councilman) Alex Padilla. He’s interested in keeping the location even after our facility opens,” Barragan said. The location is in close proximity to the Hansen Dam area where the new Los Angeles Children’s Museum is under construction, and city officials would like to see more services in the area. For now at least, PFDCU will house cash services and an ATM at the Lake View Terrace address. The VEDC will also relocate its Women’s Business Center from Santa Clarita to the new facility.
VEDC Chief Won’t Fill Lending Position Because of Cutbacks