Historic El Centro building becomes home to local nonprofit that has been supporting small businesses throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties for three decades.
When Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) occupies its newly leased 3,500+ SF space on the entire third floor of the historic El Centro building located at 19-31 E. Canon Perdido Street in downtown Santa Barbara, the goal is to open much more than an office.
“We’ve been carefully searching for the right location for several years, and we knew what we were looking for was probably the unicorn of office spaces,” said WEV CEO Kathy Odell. “It had to be more than a workspace – we wanted classroom space for training courses, a lecture hall for our speaker series, an event space and a community gathering place for our clients and donors.”
Built in 1927, the El Centro building recently underwent a complete renovation. Once the site of a Chinese temple in old Santa Barbara’s Chinatown, the historic building now houses businesses such as Board & Brush Creative Studio and Sevtap Winery on the ground floor, and a variety of commercial tenants above.
“Working with WEV to find the perfect home, a truly unique space that would allow them to expand their services to the community, was a dream endeavor,” added Rhonda Henderson of Radius Commercial Real Estate who represented WEV in the transaction.
“Over the last three years our local small business community has endured fires, mudslides, and a global pandemic. Fostering community has never been more important as we work to support and empower business owners and entrepreneurs to help our entire community recover and thrive. We look forward to welcoming people into our new downtown location very soon,” said Odell.
About Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV)
Women’s Economic Ventures is dedicated to creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women. WEV is a business resource network for anyone looking to start a business, grow a local business, or improve their business skills. WEV provides small business support – including classes, consulting, and funding – as well as financial literacy programs in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. While WEV’s focus is on women, it welcomes people of all gender identities into the WEV community. Business courses, programs and loans are provided in both English and Spanish.
Since 1991, WEV has provided business training and small business advisory services to more than 28,000 people throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. WEV has made more than $6.9 million in small business loans and helped nearly 5,300 local businesses start or expand, generating an estimated $873 million in annual sales and creating over 12,400 local jobs. WEV is a U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Center and Microlender, as well as a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).