Press Release: Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund Kick Off Meeting to be Held in South Bay on November 16th

For Immediate Release:                                            
November 5, 2019

Media Contacts:
Miya Iwataki 626-993-8142
Kevin Sanada 310-592-3403
Caroline Calderon 310-384-1683        

Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund Kick Off Meeting to be Held in South Bay on November 16th:
Meeting will introduce the fund and its mission to preserve Little Tokyo’s cultural identity

Los Angeles, CA  –  On Saturday, November 16th at 2:00 pm, the Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund (LTCIF) will hold a special Kick Off Meeting at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute (JCI), 1964 W. 162nd St. in Gardena to introduce the Fund to prospective investors in the South Bay, present updates on the Fund’s progress, and provide details about how to invest in the effort. The meeting will include an informational presentation followed by a question and answer session with current investors and LTCIF steering committee members. Payments and investor documents will be accepted at the event.

The LTCIF, a social purpose corporation, is a unique, community-driven investment opportunity that empowers individuals to own a stake in the future of Little Tokyo. Investors purchase shares in the Fund, which go directly toward acquiring property in Little Tokyo to preserve family-owned small businesses and community institutions. Approved by the Commissioner of the California Department of Business Oversight in July, the LTCIF has already attracted more than $300,000 in investments from community members throughout California.

“The progress we’ve made in just the last four months shows how many people care deeply about the future of Little Tokyo as a commercial, cultural, and spiritual center for Los Angeles,” noted Bill Watanabe, President of the LTCIF, “many South Bay families have strong ties to Little Tokyo, and we’re excited to share this important opportunity.”

The LTCIF was established as a direct response to rising real estate prices in the Downtown area. As development pressures in the area have grown, many memorable and historic businesses and institutions that once called Little Tokyo home have closed their doors. By purchasing, leasing, and managing real estate in and around Little Tokyo, the LTCIF will contribute to community revitalization and cultural preservation while allowing community members to own a stake in the neighborhood for years to come.

“As a resident of Little Tokyo for the past 8 years, I see it has become urgent that we focus on preserving Little Tokyo’s history and heritage. We owe it to the Issei and Nisei who built this community,” says LTCIF member Patty Nagano. “We need to keep the kimochi (heart) of Little Tokyo alive for generations.”

The LTCIF is led by longstanding stakeholders, experts in real estate and finance, and members of the non-profit community in Little Tokyo. Established in 2018, the LTCIF is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Japanese American family-owned businesses, cultural institutions, & spiritual centers in Little Tokyo of Los Angeles. To learn more about the Fund please visit To RSVP for the South Bay Kick Off, please go to



Keeping Mom & Pop on the Block

LTCIF is an emerging model for anti-displacement that centers community investment and ownership. Just last month at Los Angeles LISC’s “Preserving Cultural Neighborhood Gems” Convening on October 15th, LTCIF organizing committee members Bill Watanabe and Lisa Hasegawa joined a panel alongside CDC Small Business Finance and With Love Café and Market to discuss financial tools that could help sustain small businesses at risk of displacement.

The panel highlighted the need to think outside the box and create resources beyond traditional lending and financing tools that are not necessarily accessible to different communities impacted by rising rents and gentrification. The growing movement of LTCIF is made possible by a committee of dedicated individuals who share their expertise and networks and also by stakeholders who want to see Little Tokyo grow.

“We’re drawing from a regional pool of people who care about Little Tokyo. And [the Fund’s purpose] crosses race, class, geography…[our approach is] multi-generational…It’s really about building that community stake,” explained Lisa Hasegawa when asked about the partnerships that LTCIF has developed.

The panel was moderated by LA LISC Executive Director, Tunua Thrash-Ntuk.

Here are some highlights of the panel:

  • Bill Watanabe shared how the Fund started as a conversation in a living room among Little Tokyo community advocates and stakeholders. The rational behind the $10,000 and $1,000 share options is informed by meetings with community members and attorney, Brett Heger. In 2 months, LTCIF is halfway to their goal of $500,000!
  • Tony Barengo from CDC Small Business Finance shared information about their partnership with LISC where they offer loans (leveraged by sources such as New Market Tax Credits) to small businesses to own their spaces. The loan rates offered to these businesses are below market rate and take “the best parts” of the SBA commercial real estate loan to provide more flexibility to applicants.
  • Andrew McDowell, owner of With Love Café located near South LA, presented on his innovative social-enterprise model for his business where he invites community members to be investors and co-owners.

Although these strategies serve different neighborhoods, they are rooted in a similar purpose: to address displacement in their communities. They are examples of new and emerging models for ownership and resources for anti-displacement efforts.

A partial recording of the panel is available below (28 minutes):

LTCIF’s strategies is informed by community input and relies on the participation of CA residents. To learn more about our model and become an investor, please visit our “Invest” page.

All prospective investors should: 1) review LTCIF’s Offering Circular, 2) sign the subscription agreement and investor questionnaire, and 3) submit a payment to purchase a share or multiple shares.