Economic development corporation and partners win top CalEd award for B Street Theatre project

SANTA ANA, Calif. – On March 16, the Small Business Development Corporation of Orange County and its partners received an Award of Excellence from the California Association for Local Economic Development for project financing to support the expansion of the B Street Theatre in Sacramento.

It is the highest award in CalEd’s category for Economic Development Partnerships and was granted this year to both the B Street project and to a hotel development by Kosmont Companies. The awards were presented during CalEd’s 38thAnnual Training Conference in Monterey March 14 - 16.

Now called The Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts, the enlarged, two-stage $29 million theater opened in February in its new space in midtown Sacramento. It is the culmination of 20 years of determined effort on the part of the theater’s leadership along with multiple project partners in public and private sectors who provided varied financing and support. Small Business Development Corporation of Orange County in Santa Ana is among the entities that brought the project to fruition. Its commitment to a unique method involving $2.5 millioninkey credit guarantees to support bridge funding in 2016 utilizing the state’s Small Business Loan Guarantee program allowed construction to begin on the long-awaited theater expansion.

“This is a significant economic development collaboration supporting a public charitable organization which best demonstrates the state of California’s capital access apparatus in collaboration with Five Star Bank, the city of Sacramento and Sutter Health. This partnership effort supports a public benefit project which will bring significant job creation and bolster Sacramento’s community tax base,” said Michael A. Ocasio, president and chief executive officer of the Small Business Development Corporation of Orange County.

The new theater is located near a major artery in the Sutter Business Improvement Area, a district managed by the Midtown Association. Surrounding amenities include restaurants, shopping, a parking garage and Sutter Health Midtown Medical Center. Sutter Health contributed the land on which the new theater was constructed as well as $1.5 million in cash donation.

At its previous location, the theater was reported to have attracted 85,000 people a year for its mainstage shows and 25,000 for its family series. This influx of visitors is expected to contribute to and grow the already thriving Midtown culinary scene, which in the first quarter of 2017 was responsible for almost 60% of Midtown’s area-wide generated sales tax. 

The new theater carries the moniker The Sophia after private donor Sofia Tsakopoulos, wife of prominent developer Angelo Tsakopoulos, founder of AKT Development in Sacramento.The theater, designed by Vrilakas Groen Architects in Sacramentofeatures a 250-seat mainstage theater which is a thrust-style theater allowing the audience to sit on three sides, and a 365-seat proscenium theater for children and family shows called the Sutter Theatre for Children. The theater complex includes chorus-sized and semi-private dressing rooms, a green room and costume shop. The first show at The Sophia, “One Man, Two Guvnors,” was offered on the mainstage Feb. 2 - March 4.

“The recognition by CalEd of the unique, groundbreaking partnership that enabled the B Street Theatre project to happen is a testament to the decades of exceptional art-making and engagement with the Sacramento community,” said Bill Blake, West Coast director for AMS Planning & Research in Sacramento. He served as B Street Theatre’s managing director between September 2005 and June 2016 and led the expansion’s capital campaign. “It was an honor to be part of such an amazing project and it is gratifying to see that others recognize the accomplishment,” he said.



SBDC of Orange County ( is a quasi-public/private 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public benefit corporation, which operates under the state’s public municipal bank, The California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (iBank). SBDC of Orange County is not affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

The corporation, established in 2001, is a mission driven organization dedicated to assisting small business owners secure operating capital through its capital access programs including California’s State Loan Guarantee Program, Export Lines of Credit, bond conduit and Green Energy Initiatives to support small business access to credit.