Diversity Awards celebrate small business achievements

From California Black Media

SACRAMENTO — The California African American Chamber of Commerce, the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce hosted the third annual Diversity Awards on June 27.

The awards luncheon celebrated corporate, legislative and business leaders who are champions of small diverse businesses in California. The program also featured highlights from a report commissioned by the California Office of the Small Business Advocates (Cal OSBA), aimed at understanding the significant impact small businesses have on the state.

“We like to think of the economy as something where there’s always some government agency collecting information, but it’s remarkably hard to get into the trenches and figure out what’s really happening at the ground level,” said Chris Thornberg, an economist who authored the report.

“Last year was the beginning of pulling this together with the help of Cal OSBA, the chambers and sponsors. This year, we expanded and improved the processes, adding data from the American Community Survey to get a better sense of the diverse business community.”

The report’s findings highlight the importance of small and diverse businesses in California. Collectively, they generated about $443 billion in 2019, representing nearly half a trillion dollars. Although this figure dropped slightly in 2020 due to the pandemic, their impact remained above $400 billion, accounting for about 8% of California’s overall output.

“That $414 billion would make our diverse small business sector the 24th largest state economy, larger than Oregon or South Carolina,” Thornberg said. “These businesses support about 3.6 million jobs directly or indirectly.”

The report also indicated that diverse small businesses have shown resilience and growth in recent years.

“Despite various challenges, diverse small businesses have performed well,” Thornberg said. “The number of self-employed individuals and minorities in the state is up 10% from 2016, while overall small business numbers have contracted by about 15% over the same period. This growth is particularly evident in major regions like Los Angeles and San Bernardino, where a significant portion of the labor force comprises self-employed minorities.”

The success and growth of diverse small businesses in California are seen as a promising trend. 

“Los Angeles is home to the largest concentration of these businesses, followed by San Diego and San Bernardino,” Thornberg said. “In these regions, almost a third of the entire labor force is made up of self-employed minorities, showcasing the power and influence of these communities.”

Pat Fong Kushida, president and CEO of the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce thanked everyone for attending the event and highlighted the need for continuing to work together.

“Thank you so much for leaning in on that first report and giving us a strong foundation. We all push and pull. This is what we’re doing in the room today. There are a lot of pushers and a lot of pullers. Let’s work better together, and then we’ll achieve some of the goals that Chris outlined for all of us,” said Fong.

Photo courtesy of California Black Media

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