By Toni G. Atkins | Speaker of the Assembly
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. There are more than 3.5 million of them in California, and they account for more than half the jobs in our state. It’s important to celebrate and recognize the successful stores, restaurants, offices, and family businesses that contribute to the character of our neighborhoods and add so much to our local economy.
That’s why I’m happy to honor the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach as Assembly District 78’s Small Business of the Year. The Belly Up Tavern was selected from a pool of 23 great nominees. I am proud to honor all of these businesses.
The Belly Up is one of our most popular local venues and has been repeatedly named the “Best Live Music Club” in San Diego County. It has featured acts as varied as the Neville Brothers, Jimmy Buffett, and Mumford & Sons, and in its 41-year history has maintained a connection with the community, hosting fundraisers that benefit a variety of causes, from ALS to Toys for Tots.
May was Small Business Month, and we continued the celebration in Sacramento on June 10 with the California Small Business Association lunch at the Sacramento Convention Center.
I co-hosted the event, where members of the state legislature honored small-business owners from around the state, including the Belly Up and co-owners Phil Berkovitz and Steve Goldberg.
I also will host a reception in San Diego on June 26 to recognize my Small Business of the Year honorees and present an Assembly resolution to each business owner as a thank-you for their vision and dedication.
There are 28 million small businesses in the U.S., according to the Small Business Administration, and the SBA’s Region 9, which includes California, has received significant support, attracting more than one-fifth of the agency’s loan activity in 2014. The SBA also provides outreach to veterans and women who already are small-business owners or thinking of launching a new venture.
The state works to support small businesses, as well. A quarter of the awards in the California Competes tax-credit program are set aside for small businesses, and San Diego has performed exceptionally well. Thirty companies received more than $27 million in tax credits in the last year, and much of that went to San Diego County small businesses.
In addition, I am sponsoring AB 437 to enable small businesses in the tech sector to tap into tax credits to reinvest in research-and-development activities, and AB 226, to make it easier for local fishermen to organize and sell their catch directly to the public at community fish markets.
I appreciate all the hard work of the tens of thousands of small-business owners in my community and will continue not just to advocate on their behalf, but also to encourage all San Diegans to support their local homegrown businesses.
Around the District: I’ve launched “Socks for Stand Down,” a sock drive through June 30 to support Stand Down, the annual event to assist struggling or homeless veterans. You may drop socks for our veterans in the box at my district office, located at 1350 Front St., Room 6054, at local community meetings, or at office hours where my staff appears. For a list of the office hours, please see the “Upcoming Events” on my website, asmdc.org/speaker. Stand Down takes place from July 17-19 this year … The Balboa Park “Garden Party of the Century” was a great celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the Panama-California Exposition. Here I am with Rep. Susan Davis and Councilmember Todd Gloria. It was great to see the children in the Floral Wagon parade and the U.S. Marine Corps re-enactment of their long-ago march across the Cabrillo Bridge … I was shocked to learn so many college students struggle with hunger and homelessness. San Diego State has established an Economic Crisis Response Team to help and UC San Diego opened the Triton Food Pantry in February. California State University launched a yearlong study into the problem and I’m eager to see the results. Making sure that students are fed and housed are basic necessities that we as legislators, along with campus administrators, need to ensure.
—Toni G. Atkins is the Speaker of the California State Assembly. For more information, please visit her website, asmdc.org/speaker/ where you can sign up for her e-newsletter or get the latest news on legislation and other activities. You also may follow her on Twitter, @toniatkins.