On September 13, Main Street Alliance members in San Diego gathered to discuss what they care about, what affects their businesses and how they can advocate for a San Diego that helps them thrive.
The small business leaders kicked off their first roundtable by exploring a foundational principle of Main Street Alliance: when everyone in our communities can afford to live, our businesses and economy thrive.
What does this mean for the business community in San Diego?
The group considered several opportunities. First, they reviewed options for local campaigns:
- Supporting the “Invest in San Diego Families” coalition work, to ensure that the County puts some of the $1.9 billion dollars it holds in cash reserves back into local neighborhood services - and consider ways it can invest in small business’ well being.
- Enforcing the minimum wage and earned sick days ordinance that the City of San Diego is implementing after it was voted into law in June. The City has a mandate to proactively roll it out, letting business owners know how to stay on top of all the ordinance’s compliance requirements. Most San Diego employers are honest and play by the rules, but it will be vital to ensure that unscrupulous businesses aren’t allowed to skirt the law to gain a competitive advantage.
- Ensuring that San Diego is putting dollars saved by Prop 47 (dollars not spent on incarcerating people for common petty drug offenses) into preventative and supportive services, so we can proactively address issues like drug treatment programs, mental health treatment or homelessness.
Member businesses connected these local opportunities with national Main Street Alliance campaigns such as:
- Advocating for paid family leave
- Supporting a raise in the minimum wage
- Speaking out against the hateful rhetoric of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign
- Addressing the gap in access to capital for small businesses
The creativity kept flowing as members continued to share their ideas. They brought up the issue of how the “small business” classification may be misleading since the Small Business Administration or Internal Revenue Service definitions range from under 50 to under 500 employees. Throughout the conversation, members stressed the importance of addressing hyper-local issues that excite San Diego’s small business owners.
The business leaders asked each other: What issues in San Diego do we have an opportunity to tackle together for the benefit of all small businesses? They quickly generated some starting points, including:
- Public transit and infrastructure
- Pushing for an office of small business at the city level
- Government contracting
- Collective healthcare purchasing
As the meeting ended, the handshakes were more than a polite gesture. “There was a sense that a major movement for San Diego business had just begun,” says Main Street Alliance of San Diego Director Karim Bouris. “Members are fired up to advocate for a better San Diego that works for everyone.”
If you live in San Diego but weren’t able to make it to the September meeting, we invite you to share your own thoughts about opportunities for small business to advocate for a better San Diego. Simply get in touch with Karim at firstname.lastname@example.org