By Toni G. Atkins | Notes from Toni
Small businesses, if you think about it, enrich our own personal quality of life and enhance our neighborhoods and communities — from my nail salon in Mission Hills, my massage therapist in Hillcrest, my auto mechanic in Normal Heights, my veterinarian in Kensington, and the wine bar in my own community of South Park/Golden Hill to the network of independently owned endeavors throughout my Senate district and the San Diego region.
South Park is a perfect case for how small businesses shape a community. Historically a quiet smaller neighborhood, South Park has recently become a more desirable destination in San Diego, and that’s thanks to its nearly 100 small businesses — clothing and gift boutiques, hair salons and tattoo parlors, restaurants and bars, ice cream shops and cafes, dog groomers and toy stores, gyms and yoga studios.
Every quarter, South Park holds a neighborhood “walkabout” that used to be a smaller community gathering where the stores would stay open late on a Saturday night and residents could socialize together. But the walkabout has exploded, becoming a popular destination for people who live all over the city.
That’s all due to the businesses that have set up shop in the neighborhood — unique companies that can’t be found anywhere else. This is happening in communities throughout San Diego and California, and behind all those businesses are people who had a dream, a vision for a specific need that they could fill to provide goods or services for their neighbors and a livelihood for their families.
Small businesses are the backbone of California, employing more than 6.5 million people — about half of the state’s workforce — and driving our economy forward.
In San Diego County, there are about 77,000 companies that employ fewer than 50 people. That’s 95 percent of all companies in our region, accounting for nearly half of the local workforce. About 60,000 businesses employ fewer than 10 people, accounting for 74 percent of all businesses. And about 46,000 companies — 57 percent of the total — employ fewer than five people.
I want to make sure everyone knows about the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development — Go-Biz for short — which provides a range of services for companies big and small and assists anyone who has a vision for a company of their own. Visit Go-Biz online at business.ca.gov.
One of Go-Biz’s successful programs is the California Competes tax credit program. It has provided 104 San Diego-area companies with more than $92 million in tax credits, helping to create more than 13,500 new jobs. Many of those are small businesses.
The state Legislature honored small businesses throughout California at a luncheon in Sacramento on June 5, including the small business of the year from my 39th District: Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant in Kensington. And on June 23, we’ll recognize additional businesses from San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach at a reception here in San Diego
Even though it’s a number of months away, Nov. 25 will be a great opportunity to support small independent shops in our communities — it’s Small Business Saturday, two days after Thanksgiving.
And let’s not forget our incredible farmers markets — one almost every night of the week throughout our cities in San Diego County. Farmers markets give small businesses a venue to bring specialty foods, innovative ideas and fresh vegetables right to our neighborhoods.
I encourage you to support the independent stores and shops that make your life easier.
—Toni G. Atkins represents the 39th District in the California Senate. Follow her on Twitter @SenToniAtkins.