Women’s Economic Ventures Relocates to Downtown Santa Barbara with New Office Lease

By Giving List Staff   |   June 28, 2021

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), www.wevonline.org

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 training, advisory services, financial literacy programs and small business loans 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 19,000 people throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. WEV has made more than $6.4 million in small business loans and helped more than 5,000 local businesses start or expand, generating an estimated $770 million in annual sales and creating nearly 12,000 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). 


Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV)

Phone: (805) 689-4739
CEO: Kathy Odell


Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

“I’ve been a proud supporter of WEV for more than 20 years. As a serial entrepreneur, I understand the challenges that business owners face. And, as a Santa Barbara resident, I appreciate the vibrancy and jobs that WEV businesses bring to the community.
When I support WEV, I know that I am empowering the women and minorities that operate my favorite neighborhood businesses. I invite you to get to know WEV’s clients and invest in them wholeheartedly.” 
– Gail Zannon

Pay it Forward

Women’s business ownership is about more than jobs and benefits, economic growth and profits. It is about freedom and options, security – and human potential. It is about empowering women to dream big dreams, to act on a bigger stage, to become leaders.
WEV’s League of Extraordinary Women brings together an influential and collaborative group of high achieving women leaders who are inspired to combine their efforts and resources to help strengthen women-owned businesses and elevate women in our community.
League members are successful role models and mentors who, combined with WEV’s programs, help women develop the confidence, skills, and financial security to become leaders in their business and community – and pay it forward to the next generation of women.
Make an impact. Join the League of Extraordinary Women. Call Kate MacNaughton at 805.908.0091 or visit www.wevonline.org/theleague to join.

Board of Directors

Melissa Livingston, President, Chief Deputy Director, County of Ventura, Human Services Agency
Banks Staples Pecht, Co-Vice Chair, Executive Coach, Attorney, Founder BanksCoaching
Andrew Winchester, Co-Vice Chair, Wealth Adviser, Wells Fargo Private Bank
Nancy M. Crouse, Treasurer, CFA
Linda Rossi, Secretary, Chief Administrative Officer, Ventura County Credit Union
Aruni Boteju, Relationship Banker, Bank of the West
Emma Bridges, Executive Director, Morgan Stanley
Kristina Eriksen, Business Consultant
Jayme Garone, Business Relationship Manager, J.P. Morgan Chase
Cheryl, Heitmann, Council Member, Ventura City Council
Junemarie Justus, Founder, The Acorn Project
Elaine Kitagawa, Former CFO, lynda.com
Emily Latour, Senior Manager, Talent & Organization, Accenture
Rosanne Welcher, Chief Scientific Officer, Agilent
Joey Zumaya, Public Sector Manager, LinkedIn