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Inner-city Entrepreneurs to Learn From Pros

June 28, 2001

Los Angeles -- Latino, Asian and African-American entrepreneurs from across the United States, including a former pro boxer, are on the University of Southern California campus this week to learn the fundamental real estate skills needed to revitalize their inner-city neighborhoods. "We teach them to run their spread sheets and structure their deals so they can reach their well-intentioned goals," said Stuart Gabriel, Ph.D., one of the founders of the Summer Program in Real Estate at USC.

The two-week program, the only one of its kind in the country, was created after the 1992 Los Angeles riots by professors from USC's Lusk Center for Real Estate, the Mayor's Office, the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles and volunteers from the private sector.

Current students include former heavyweight champion Buster Mathis, who heads a residential and commercial development firm in Florida; Heriberto Barrios, an executive with the National Farm Workers Service Center in Oxnard who wants to develop affordable housing; and Los Angeles real estate agent Patricia Lankford, who became a mother at age 13, graduated from college and now works with a non-profit women's group to create housing in the inner-city.

Volunteer instructor Stan Ross, chairman of the Lusk Center board, said the classes successfully integrate economics with social policy. "Non-profit doesn't mean you don't make money," Ross said. "You simply can't achieve the social good without the economics."

The courses, taught by USC faculty and other real estate experts, include real estate finance, financial analysis, investment modeling, market analysis, real estate law, project design and site planning. The program's highlight is a feasibility study in which students apply what they've learned in developing a "real world" project, which this year is a parcel of industrial land in downtown Los Angeles.

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