Mayor Rex Richardson (Courtesy photo)



Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson and Los Angeles City Council President Paul Krekorian are among the honorees at the 29th Economic Awards Dinner sponsored by the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, March 30, at JW Marriott LA Live in downtown Los Angeles.   

The event pays tribute to individuals, small businesses and corporations who have contributed to the economic growth and development of the African American small business community.  Richardson and Krekorian will receive Public Service Awards. Mayor Karen Bass will give the keynote address.  

Other honorees are Dr. Rueben Smith, vice chancellor and chief facilities executive for Los Angeles Community College District, Special Recognition Award; Joseph T. Rouzan III, president and CEO, Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC), Legacy Award; and Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, president and CEO, The Center by Lendistry, President’s Award.  

Council President Paul Krekorian (Courtesy photo)

“Each year we gather to recognize those that have made a difference in the success of Black businesses in greater Los Angeles,” Gene Hale, GLAAACC chairman said.   

“We are proud to recognize these exceptional individuals who have gone above and beyond in providing resources, assistance and a pathway to prosperity for thousands of small, Black-owned businesses.”   

Malia Cohen, California’s first Black controller, will be an awards presenter.  Elected in November 2022, Cohen is chief fiscal officer of the world’s fifth-largest economy. Her primary responsibility is to account for and protect the state‘s financial resources.  

Cohen also independently audits government agencies that spend state funds, and administers the payroll system for state government employees and California State University employees.  

The honorees, while coming from a variety of backgrounds, all have one common denominator:  dedication to serving the small business community. 

Council President Paul Krekorian (Courtesy photo)

Richardson became the youngest person in history elected to the Long Beach City Council in 2014. In 2016, he was elected to a two-year term as Vice Mayor, also the youngest in city history. In November 2022, Richardson broke barriers once again as both the first Black person and first resident of North Long Beach in history elected to serve as mayor.  

Dr. Ruben Smith (Courtesy photo)

Krekorian was elected unanimously in October 2022 to preside as the 26th President of the Los Angeles City Council.  He represents Council District 2 and chaired the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee for the last 10 years. Krekorian led the City to recovery from two fiscal calamities: the Great Recession and the COVID-related economic collapse, building the strongest reserves in the City’s history.  

Tunua Thrash-Ntuk (Courtesy photo)

Smith has over 20 years of experience in engineering design, construction, facilities, and environmental sustainability.  He has led the design, development, and post construction management of dozens of projects, including the implementation of zero-net energy (ZNE) master plans and integrated energy resource plans.  

Tunua Thrash-Ntuk (Courtesy photo)

Rouzan leads VSEDC in creating economic and small business development solutions in South Los Angeles.  Prior to joining VSEDC, he served as a director for the City of Los Angeles, overseeing a $4.5 million annual budget.  Rouzan’s 29 years of City Service includes 13 with the Economic and Workforce Development Department and 16 with the Los Angeles Police Department.   

Malia Cohen (File Photo)

As Lendistry president and CEO, Thrash-Ntuk is responsible for scaling the nonprofit’s footprint and expanding access to capital initiatives for underserved small business owners. Prior to her position at Lendistry, Thrash-Ntuk was the senior executive director for Local Initiatives Support Corporation in Los Angeles (LISC LA), where, with the city, county and philanthropic partners, she oversaw the equitably distributed more than $150 million in grants and loans.  

Gene Hale (Courtesy photo)

In addition to these honorees, awards will presented to business leaders in categories such as African American Business of the Year, Banking and Financial Institution of the Year, Public Service, Purchasing Executive, Construction Company of the Year, Small Business Advocate, Public Works Contractor of the Year and Corporation of the Year.  

For tickets or sponsorship information on GLAAACC’s 29th Annual Economic Awards Dinner, visit or call (323) 292-1297.