The Valley Economic Development Center has provided $183,000 in microloans to six Los Angeles area businesses that completed a risk management education pilot program. The VEDC, based in Sherman Oaks, teamed up with Travelers Companies Inc. to provide the training to 60 women- and minority-owned businesses through the center’s entrepreneur training program. Out of the 60 participating businesses, 20 completed extended consulting and development of a risk management plan with VEDC staff and risk specialists from Travelers, one of the largest insurers of small businesses. The pilot program was a first for Travelers in the U.S., and it also broke new ground for VEDC. It was the organization’s first program that focused on risk management, said Bob Holguin, the director of business services. “What this does is allows the VEDC to take part in providing a different level of service to the clients,” Holguin said. The program helps small business owners by educating them on potential dangerous workplace situations that could result in injury or lawsuits. Having a risk management plan in place is especially helpful to manufacturers or other companies that use equipment, Holguin said. “Even a small retail store can be helped if there are steps down from the entry,” he said. The VEDC had one client in downtown Los Angeles that refurbished antique furniture in a building that had only one doorway and wrought iron bars over the windows. In the case of a fire at the doorway, Holguin said, the owner would not be able to get out. So the landlord was convinced to modify the bars with special releases so the windows could be opened in the event of a fire. The microloans provided by the VEDC will pay for repairs or other necessary safeguards at the businesses. Among San Fernando Valley companies that received microloans are book publisher The Disciple Group in Toluca Lake and Classes 4 Characters, a North Hollywood training facility for special effects makeup artists and theatrical prop makers. Kristina de la Cruz, owner of dessert business Crème Caramel LA, took part in the risk management program and received a microloan from the VEDC. Crème Caramel LA sells to wholesalers and at four farmer’s markets in Los Angeles. De la Cruz admitted to not giving much thought to insurance or getting certificates of assurance from her suppliers on the quality of their products. Working in a kitchen environment, de la Cruz applies a common-sense approach of having her employees immediately clean up if they see anything spilled on the floor. “You cannot assume everyone is following the same assurances you are following,” de la Cruz said. “You need to back that up on your end.” Travelers and the VEDC have agreed to offer the risk management program for a second year. Branching Out Logix Federal Credit Union opened its newest branch in Simi Valley on Feb. 14. The location is the second in that city and the 14th overall for the Burbank-based financial institution that was previously known as Lockheed Federal Credit Union. The branch in the Paseo Shopping Center off Tapo Canyon Road is recognition of the thousands of members Logix has in the Simi Valley area, said Chief Executive Dave Styler. “We want to make it more convenient for existing members and those who want to become members as well,” Styler said. Logix worked with Bill Boyd of commercial real estate firm Charles Dunn Co. to find the space. The Paseo location was preferable because of the demographics in the area and traffic patterns, Styler said. “We do plan to add a third when we can find another location and after building up the business base,” Styler added. The Simi Valley branch is staffed by seven employees. Logix offers checking and saving accounts, vehicle and home loans, small business and commercial real estate loans, insurance and credit cards. The expansion is part of a long-term branch deployment plan by the credit union. There are no immediate plans to open any new branches, but Styler said the next one would likely be in the north San Fernando Valley. “We cover most of the Valley and east Ventura County and it could be anywhere within that region,” Styler said. Logix serves more than 110,000 members in an area from Pasadena to Thousand Oaks and north to Valencia. For the quarter ending Sept. 30, Logix reported total deposits of $2.8 billion and total assets of $3.4 billion. Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or email@example.com.