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Innovate Pasadena Seeks to Bolster Pandemic Recovery for Small Businesses

Published on Thursday, March 25, 2021 | 11:23 am
Innovate Pasadena President Rob McClinton (left) and Board Chair Beth Kuchar (right). (Images courtesy Innovate Pasadena)

A Pasadena nonprofit that has long been dedicated to fostering technological innovation and entrepreneurship now says it’s shifting its attention to finding ways to help local small businesses thrive as they work to recover from the pandemic.

Innovate Pasadena plans to expand its scope in an effort to aid “small businesses that need help or that could benefit from the knowledge that innovators could impart,” the organization said in a written statement.

“Reaching beyond traditional tech and software companies to be more inclusive in our view or broadening the view of those businesses, that people wouldn’t traditionally associate with innovation,” the statement said. “An initiative for 2021 and 2022 is to build those pathways of communication. We don’t have all the answers, but what we do best is get people together who do.”

Innovate Pasadena President Rob McClinton said the initiative fits right in with the organization’s overall mission.

“Our whole goal for existing is to promote the vibrant and rich ecosystem in Pasadena,” McClinton said, adding many workers in the tech field noticed the major impact pandemic protocols and closures had on local restaurants and other businesses.

“We need to think bigger about what the vibrant ecosystem in Pasadena means. It’s not just tech and design companies. It’s all the other companies, all the other small businesses that make up the fabric of Pasadena. So we want to open up more channels beyond our traditional tech and software companies to reach out to local small businesses,” he said.

“We have a lot to learn from them,” McClinton said. “Some of them kept their doors open in an amazingly, ridiculously challenging situation in a manner that would give any tech startup envy.”

Many small businesses have already grown to incorporate more technology as a result of the pandemic, said Innovate Pasadena Board Chair Beth Kuchar.

“There are, I think, a lot of businesses have had to learn how to incorporate technology into the way they do business,” she said. “Restaurants, obviously, are a perfect example because restaurants that didn’t have delivery and online ordering… they had to find new technology, figure out how to manage some of those orders and figure out how to shift how they were running their restaurants.”

The pandemic also appears to have sped up the public’s willingness to adopt more technology in daily life, Kuchar said.

“I think that people will be more comfortable with new technologies and trying new things,” Kuchar said. “Business owners will become more comfortable with taking small risks and using technology in their everyday business. And I definitely think it pushed ‘fast forward’ for us, for sure.”

More information about Innovate Pasadena can be found on the organization’s website,

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