My parents grew up in Bakersfield. In fact, my grandmother ran a beauty salon on South Hayes Street for many years. I still have lots of family here and I feel a deep connection to your town. That’s why I’m so happy to have a week-long visit while attending the Bakersfield edition of the California Economic Summit, hosted by California Forward. While I’m here, I’ll meet as many local small business owners as I can and get a sense of where Main Street is in my family’s hometown.
I’m here to represent the California Office of the Small Business Advocate, which supports economic growth and innovation by providing our state’s small businesses and entrepreneurs with the information, tools, and resources they need to start, manage and develop successful and resilient businesses. I will be attending several events including a panel on Energy, Climate, Community Resilience and Economic Mobility hosted by the Kern Community College District. At Thursday’s summit, I will announce a new effort from my office, the 2022 Task Force on Entrepreneurship and Economic Mobility.
My office’s message to all the small business owners I meet with this week: Your economic recovery is California’s economic recovery.
With 4.2 million small businesses, California has the largest small business sector in the country. They employ nearly half of our state’s workforce. Helping these businesses start, scale, and thrive is why CalOSBA was created.
Besides Hawaii and the territories, our state has the most diverse small business sector in the nation; almost 45% of our small businesses are owned by Hispanics or racial minorities.
But that’s also where the story gets complicated: Only 13% of those 1.9 million Hispanic or minority-owned businesses met the goal of hiring employees.
That’s why, when Governor Gavin Newsom describes his vision of a “California for All,” I think of what CalOSBA can do to help these businesses grow and create more jobs that support the local community.
At the California Forward Summit, I will dive into new ideas with local practitioners and community leaders on how to implement three big goals that the Entrepreneurship and Economic Mobility Task Force will focus on:
Democratize access to capital. One of the reasons so many women-owned and minority-owned businesses can’t scale enough to hire employees is that they don’t have equitable access to capital. We need to find effective ways to “loosen the credit box”. California’s tech support network of more than 100 small business centers — including the Cal State Bakersfield Small Business Development Center and the Kern Women’s Business Center — is here to help businesses in underserved business communities prepare for a loan. But we need more creative ways to make corporate finance fair.
Diversify the innovation economy. California’s dominance of the high-tech startup space is still undeniable, but mostly concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. My office’s Accelerate California program funds a network of inclusive innovation centers to diversify innovation, across zip codes and backgrounds, and in terms of industry and technology sectors. That’s why the KCCD panel will be looking at clean economy opportunities for Kern County this week.
Stimulate economic mobility through entrepreneurship. That’s what it’s all about for me – making sure that small business ownership can create generational wealth for the families that pursue it and, in turn, close the racial wealth gap. We need a higher percentage of small businesses that can hire employees, allow homeowners to buy a home, send their kids to college, and leave a solid succession plan when they’re ready to retire. .
It’s the dream behind every storefront, whether on Main Street or online. I’m excited to hear about the big, innovative dreams that are afoot in Kern County and to learn from your community this week how to help them come true.