By Johnny Magdaleno.

Tasha Hunter was driving across North Long Beach a few months ago when she came across a new flower store in a retail space that had been empty for most of 2017. She went inside and congratulated the small family running the operation. She also asked if they had a business permit.

The answer was no. Their friends owned the spot, and decided to lend it to the ad hoc flower company in the run up to Mother’s Day.

Hunter, of Long Beach’s Uptown Business District, didn’t call the city to report the illegal operation. She had something else in mind. “I don’t need any more empty storefronts out here,” she says. “Instead, I told them, ‘You know what? I want to help you.’”

Fast-forward to today and that business now has a city permit; a once provisional enterprise is a neighborhood fixture. “We helped them get an actual sign, and helped them get a $2,000 startup grant,” says Hunter. “Now they’re a viable business that’s doing well.”

The Uptown Business District is Long Beach’s newest business improvement district, and leaders like Hunter are driving a citywide plan to build up local entrepreneurship across the next decade. Grants and a new online resource for aspiring entrepreneurs called BizPortal are intended to help increase economic activity in Uptown and 10 other neighborhoods.

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Read the full story at Next City.