Robert Alhanati, owner of Tomlinson Flowers
The North Valley BusinessSource Center helped third generation florist Robert Alhanati successfully obtain financial assistance that allowed him to keep his business open and save six jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Robert has been working in the flower industry for over 50 years.

In 2007, he purchased Tomlinson Flowers, a shop that has also been around since the 1960s. Tomlinson Flowers faced uncharted territory at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and closed its doors for a month to implement the COVID-19 Guidelines and Protocols for Florists. Robert worried about rent, accounts receivables and keeping his employee’s healthcare benefits active.


In March 2020, Robert began looking into the City of LA’s Small Business Emergency Microloan Program but faced challenges in submitting the application. He contacted the North Valley BusinessSource Center (BSC) for assistance with completing the Emergency Microloan application.

The North Valley BSC is overseen by EWDD contractor ICON Community Development Corporation, which also runs the South Valley BusinessSource Center. He expressed gratitude to North Valley BSC Program Manager Maria Luviano for guiding him through the loan application process.

“When I was pushed off the financial cliff, I didn't know how I was going to pay my employees,” Robert said. “As I started looking for loan programs, the first one I saw was the microloan. The process was daunting!” He said Maria “responded to me right away and understood my problem. She has helped me from then on. She’s a blessing!”

With Maria’s assistance, Robert received funds from the City’s emergency microloan in June 2020, which the City of LA converted into a pandemic recovery grant at the end of 2020.

In February 2021, Maria helped Robert successfully submit an application for the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Within days, Robert received funding that allowed him to retain six employees and hire one additional employee. The North Valley BSC is continuing to assist Robert, providing business guidance such as marketing and how to certify his business to secure procurement opportunities with the City of LA.

“Of course I would recommend The North Valley BusinessSource Center, they are very helpful! I consider ICON, where the rubber meets the ground. ICON brings government programs to me, and I am taking advantage of the resources.”

Tomlinson Flowers is located in LA City Council District 7.

EWDD’s BusinessSource and WorkSource Centers offer a variety of Business Services, including several Financial Programs and Development Incentives for businesses of all sizes. Learn how EWDD can help.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of April 12, 2021. Read this issue and more.