Careers in the “blue” or ocean economy will become more accessible for South Los Angeles residents, thanks to collaboration between the Entrepreneur Educational Center Inc. (EECI) and AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles.
During a brief ceremony on March 25, Barbara Stanton, CEO of Watts-based EECI; and Jenny Krusoe, AltaSea founding executive director signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding to partner in establishing employment opportunities in emerging “blue” sectors such as underwater robotics, aquaculture farming, and ecosystem health analysis.
The agreement also emphasizes bringing small businesses and equity to the local area, which will benefit residents in Black and Indigenous People of Color communities.
Elected officials, community leaders and executives from both organizations gathered at the Watts home of Ozie B. Gonzaque, a legendary volunteer activist. She served 18 years as a commissioner for Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), advised politicians such as Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Assemblymember Mike Gipson and Councilmember Curren Price. Stanton, Gonzaque’s daughter, recruited her mom to cook and serve her famous Gumbo for the occasion.
“My mom dedicated 50 years to the city, county and state. She built two public housing developments [as chair of HACLA] – one is Aliso Village and one in Harbor City – the first one in the nation where you could buy a house or rent an apartment. She volunteered all of her time. She also served as a hearing officer for LAPD. She’s a hard worker and we all got that from her,” said Stanton, a lifelong Watts resident who was raised in the home that her grandparents first bought the home in 1944 and her mother lives in today.
“I see a lot of wonderful friends out here. Thank you so much for coming. Welcome to my home. I hope we’ll have a good time working together in the future,” Gonzaque said.
Referring to the MOU, Stanton said, “We are people living in the Alameda corridor and we need jobs and we need small businesses. By pooling together, we have put a blue program in Watts. That’s incredible to me. To have a program that trains Black and Brown young people for jobs at the Port – that’s how we have to work it to keep this area from being underserviced.”
Krusoe offered comparable sentiments, expressing her appreciation for the joint effort with EECI. The two nonprofits – EECI and AltaSea – are members of a coalition with the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation that are finalists in the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge issued by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
“We are so proud at AltaSea of our partnership and deepening relationship with EECI. We really want to build the emerging blue economy and all the sectors that will mitigate climate change with the core value of inclusion and I am grateful for EECI joining us,” said Kruse.
“We are projecting that there will be 1,000+ new jobs and 100+ new small businesses started in the next five years with this partnership.”
Price, who represents City Council District 9, and State Senator Steve Bradford were also on hand to support the MOU signing. Bradford was credited with securing funding to construct a new facility at AltaSea.
Highlighting the significance of “blue” economy jobs, LAEDC estimates that the industry will generate more than 126,000 direct jobs in L.A. County, paying $37.7 billion in wages by 2030.
To learn more, visit www.entrepreneureducationalcenter.org or altasea.org.