Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Garamendi Visits Successful Women-Owned Businesses in Concord Helped by the Bay Area Non-Profit Women's Initiative for Self Employment

October 26, 2010
Press Release


Congressman Garamendi and Irma Pinnace hold up a custom gift basket at her store, Designs Forever. Pinnace is a graduate of Women's Initiative for Self Employment, a local non-profit that helps area women start and grow their small businesses.

CONCORD, CA – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), a small business owner, yesterday visited leaders and graduates of Women's Initiative for Self Employment at their offices in Concord. For 22 years, Women's Initiative has provided high-potential, low-income women with training, funding and ongoing support so that they can start their own business and become economically self-sufficient. The women who go through the program significantly increase their income and assets while launching businesses, stimulating the local economy, and creating jobs. In 2009 alone, recent graduates of the program created 2,244 jobs in the Bay Area. Following the visit, Garamendi and leaders of Women's Initiative toured local small businesses owned by women who have graduated from the program.

"This program gives motivated women the tools and skills they need to thrive in a challenging economy," Congressman John Garamendi said during the tour. "I am deeply impressed by the Women's Initiative and convinced that this program pays for itself and then some."

After meeting Women's Initiative graduates Kim Evans of 2Gorgis Spa, Alicia Gomez of Photo Studio En Casa, and Guisell Osorio of Sabores del Sur who provided empanadas and alfajores for lunch, Congressman Garamendi visited two additional graduate businesses. Women's Initiative graduate Ana Valdivieso owns and operates Second Home Childcare, a childcare center which has 12 employees and allows Ana to support herself and her family. Irma Pinnace, who has overcome numerous barriers and now serves as a mentor to others in her community, owns and operates Designs Forever, a gift shop and gift basket specialty store. Both of these businesses are located in Concord's Monument Corridor area.

"We are very appreciative of the time Congressman Garamendi took to learn about our program," said Carmen Angulo, community relations manager for Women's Initiative.  "It is critical that our nation's leaders realize the tremendous impact microenterprise development can have on our communities.  Mr. Garamendi saw firsthand the results of the Women's Initiative program, the businesses we've helped launch and the jobs we've helped create."

Congressman Garamendi, a small business owner, actively supports pro-jobs, pro-growth legislation. He is author of four bills to bring back our manufacturing sector, the backbone of America's middle class. His amendment to the America COMPETES Act permits the establishment of technology transfer centers at national laboratories, ensuring that public research reaches the hands of private companies. Garamendi has also supported legislation that expands small businesses' access to credit, offers assistance to women-owned and minority-owned small businesses, strengthens American patents, offers significant tax relief to small businesses that offer employees health coverage, keeps teachers in the classroom to educate tomorrow's workforce, and protects our economy from the most egregious abuses of Wall Street.

For a recent White House report on economic security for America's women, please visit

For more information on the Women's Initiative, please visit

For more information on Congressman Garamendi's work for small businesses, please visit