Overview of the August 18, 2021, Hearing

On Wednesday, August 18, 2021, the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy (JEDE) and the Assembly Select Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will be convening an informational hearing examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women- and minority-owned businesses. 

This hearing is part of a series of informational hearings being held by the committees which will form the basis for new legislation, as well as the oversight of programs and services intended to serve small businesses.

Overview of the Hearing

Among the major recovery challenges facing California is how to address the uneven economic impacts of the pandemic on low-income communities, low-wage workers, and businesses owned by women and persons of color.  Implementing inclusive economic policies requires addressing not only current inequities, but also the historic underinvestment and economic opportunities for these same population groups.  Data clearly shows that prior to the pandemic, many small business owners, workers, and neighborhoods, did not have access to the same economic opportunities of other areas of the state.  Even with 120 straight months of economic growth, income disparities were generally increasing.  The COVID-19 pandemic merely amplified these economic and health disparities.  This excerpt from a March 2021 JEDE informational hearing includes specifics on pre-pandemic income inequality in California, which set the stage for current economic recovery challenges.

As the Legislature transitions its policy focus from emergency response to economic recovery, it is important to reflect on the unintended outcomes from prior economic recovery and expansion efforts.  The data shows that too often policy solutions geared to assist businesses and workers, generally, were not able to address the deeper economic challenges of workers of color, and women- and minority-owned businesses.  In turn, these uneven economic benefits served as a drag on the state’s overall quality of life and effectively sidelined millions of creative and productive people. 

          Hearing Agenda          Witness Biographies          Witness Background Materials

The hearing is comprized of three parts, followed by a public comment period, including a panel of experts, a case study of a successful small business service provider, and a rapid fire Q&A with small business owners and a communicy development corproation.  The hearing is scheduled to beginat 2:00 pm adn be completed by 4:30 pm.

Walk Through the Agenda

JEDE Chair Cervantes and SB&E Chair Petrie-Norris will provide opening comments to help frame the hearing presentations and discussions.  JEDE Vice Chair Cunningham and committee members will also have an opportunity to make welcoming remarks and set the stage for engagement with the witnesses. 

The first panel, "Agenda Item II - Challenges in Reopening California" features presenations by Eugene Cornelius, Jr., Senior Director, Center for Regional Economics and California Center, Milken InstituteNancy Swift, Executive Director, Jefferson Economic Development Institute and Chair of California Women’s Business Center Network; and Pat Fong Kushida, President & CEO, California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce.  The panelists will provide testimony on the challenges faced by California’s women- and minority-owned businesses in reopening and being successful in the COVID-19 economy.   

Following the panel of public policy and service provider leaders, the Members will hear a case study on how women- and minority-owned businesses are helping to transform neighborhoods in the Montery, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties.  Carmen Herrera-Mansir, Executive Director, El Pájaro Community Development Corporation, will provide share insights on the growth of community development corporation services, inclduing the establishment of the Plaza Vigil, a 16-space retail incubator and their Commercial Kitchen Incubator Program, which is currently supporting 33 food purveyors.  

In recognition of the nonprofits contribution to their region, in 2020 the El Pájaro Community Development Corporation was designated a Women Business Center by the US Small Business Administration.  Below are links to three success stories from clients of the El Pájaro Community Development Corporation. 

The final panel of the hearing, "Deeper Dive into California Inclusive Economic Recovery," is organized as a repid-fire question and answer session.  Panelists have been asked to provide specific examples and recommendations on steps that can be taken to support women- and minority-owned businesses to be full participants in the California comeback.  The panelists include:

  • Monica Ochoa, owner of 1Day Cleaning, an early-stage microbusiness that overcame business development challenges with the help of state, federal, and/or local programs and services. 

  • Nicole McDonald, owner of S.T.E.A.M. Academy, a mature small business that has survived 16 months of COVID-19 restrictions and now requires capital, technical assistance, and additional staffing to reach the next stage in their business development. 

  • Andy Madeira, Chief Executive Officer, East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, a community development corporation that developed the COVID Commercial Tenant Resiliency Program for its commercial portfolio consisting of over 100 small business and non-profit tenants, the majority of which are minority and/or women owned business enterprises.

The hearing will conclude with a 30 minutes "Public Comment" period where stakeholders and members of the public may speak up to 3 minutes on thier experiences as a woman- or minority-owned business, provide other insights, and make recommendations for further legislative action.  Written comments are encouraged and may be submitted to ajed@asm.ca.gov through September 15, 2021.

Presenter background materials, available at the time of posting, can be accessed online at Joint Hearing on Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses | Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy (ca.gov)  

To Provide Public Comments  

The public and individuals representing organizations and businesses are encouraged to add their voices to this important dialogue.  Individuals interested in providing testimony during the public comment agenda item may call-in through a toll-free phone number or attend in person through the Assembly Gallery, which is accessed through the third floor of the restored side of the Capitol.  

In addition to the public comment period during the hearing, written comments may be submitted through the Office of the Assembly Jobs Committee until September 15, 2021. 

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