The State of San Diego Small Business

by Karim Bouris, Business for Good

Since everyone’s doing their State-of-the thing, we’ll join the fun and share what we think matters. If San Diego’s going to be a world-class city, then we need to focus our efforts to achieve two outcomes:

increasing quality of life for all san diegans

Businesses care about issues. They’re impacted by the same polarizing debates at the national level and feel their effects locally. We engage them directly on the policy issues below because they have their finger on the pulse on things, so we just ask them if they’re seeing improvements in, say, the way we get around town, their energy bills, or the cost of living. We believe they’re ideally suited to weigh on our local decision-making to make sure “quality of life” is increased for all San Diegans, not just a select few.

Bolstering small business competitiveness

It’s time we match local policies to the demographic reality of our local businesses. If 97% of San Diego’s businesses are small and medium enterprises with less than a hundred employees, then the idea that growth in size – be it revenues or employees – is the only metric by which we measure their success is flawed. Let’s focus instead our investment and technical assistance dollars on strengthening how they do business, with long-term sustainability in mind.

The midterm elections changed the landscape in San Diego. In a short period of time we’ve seen the influence that fresh perspectives can bring. A quick tasting sample:

  • Less than a year ago, we spoke up against the County Board of Supervisors’ vote to join the Trump administration’s lawsuit against a set of California state laws providing basic protections to undocumented immigrants. That same body voted this week to sue the Trump administration over its migrant release program. The difference? In our mind, bolder leadership by new Supervisor Nathan Fletcher who delivers on his commitment to represent the values of most San Diegans to his work .
  • San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez’ 2019 agenda includes increased homeless outreach, better access to city contracts, relocation assistance for priced-out renters, resources to achieve our climate action plan goals, pursuing more state funds – real solutions to problems addressed historically with bandaids
  • The Metropolitan Transit System makes a strong push to transform its underused parking lots into affordable housing – again under the leadership of its new chair, Georgette Gómez.
  • SANDAG’s new executive director, Hasan Ikhrata, is beginning to address long-needed transit-oriented development strategies and putting plans in place to make sure the region meets its role in fighting climate change.

The common link in all these examples: a willingness to push for lasting solutions. We’re hopeful about the positive changes that can come when you put folks with the right values in the right places. Practically speaking, this means that each of our member-led advisory committees have been planning the issues they want to prioritize in 2019 & beyond.

Environmental Health

• Publishing and updating an online resource for businesses on the EPS/Styrofoam ban and single-use plastics ordinance
• Ensuring the County’s Climate Action Plan gets updated with better binding goals that don’t rely on carbon-offsets
• Supporting the city of San Diego’s rollout of the community choice energy program
• Finding a solution to the devastating spill of sewage, chemical waste and plastic pollution into the Tijuana River
• Updating SANDAG’s Regional Transportation Plan with a strong commitment to transit-oriented housing development strategies
• Developing a regional waste management plan that will eventually give San Diego a composting facility


• Distributing more We Welcome You posters to businesses across the region
• Researching the impacts of border tightening policies on the San Diego economy
• Creating a countywide naturalization support fund
• Tracking the number of I-9 workplace audits performed by ICE on targeted industries
• Ensuring the City’s Welcoming San Diego strategic plan recommendations get implemented
• Leveraging government financing through social impact bonds to get more new Americans on career pathways
• Launching community-based loan and financing options that provide capital for immigrant entrepreneurs


• Getting our toolkit into the hands of as many businesses as possible
• Ensuring the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless (county) and the San Diego Housing Commission (city) create actionable plans
• Supporting bond measure(s) that include clear metrics to address affordable housing shortages
• Modifying the inclusionary affordable housing fees to promote more onsite unit development
• Committing a publicly financed flexible funding pool to incentivize landlord participation
• Encouraging citywide review of community planning groups’ transparency and compliance to better inform local development projects

Business resources

• Developing a directory of financing options for small and medium enterprises
• Updating the city of San Diego’s business incentive policy
• Prioritizing city investments in Opportunity Zones in 2019
• Ensuring accurate and timely reporting on city’s Community Reinvestment Master Plan
• Creating appropriate City/County startup supports
• Supporting a Disparity Study on City contractor diversity

We expect our members to become increasingly present at the neighborhood level to encourage more housing in all neighborhoods, develop more transit, help more families thrive, support more small businesses succeed.

San Diego, the Welcoming City

by Juan Pablo Sanchez, Owner of Super Cocina

Creating “an inclusive economy in San Diego” has been a regional buzzword for the last couple of years. But what does that really mean for those of us who don’t spend their time in economic development think-tanks, government hallways or philanthropic board rooms?

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Who is Juan Pablo Sanchez, Anyway?

His real life began after he broke his childhood promise:

Growing up in the city of Xalapa, Veracruz, in Mexico, Juan Pablo Sanchez’s parents always instilled in him the following: “Your education is the one thing no one and nothing can ever take from you — so always invest in it.” He took his parent’s advice to heart and entered college immediately following high school and excelled in two majors –political science and economics. Though he didn’t know at the time, but that course of study would be the catalyst at the center of Juan Pablo’s professional life for many years to come.

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Making #WeWelcomeYou happen: Meet Four Fin Creative

It’s no secret that we shamelessly believe all our members are the best at their craft. Call that sort of bias an occupational hazard if you want. But when our immigration committee wanted to refresh a poster campaign that lets businesses send a simple message loud and clear – We Welcome You – we turned to the team at Four Fin Creative for help, guidance and inspiration. We are not only thrilled at the result and the sheer brilliance of every concept they presented, but also proud to showcase the people with the skill and talent: Jen Derks, Jess Winet and Kendall Lord!

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San Diego’s Immigrant-Powered Economy on Display at February 2 Summit

• Summit to highlight how immigrant businesses create jobs and bring revenue to the city
• Business for Good executive director to lead economic opportunity session
• Small businesses invited to help craft San Diego’s strategic immigrant integration plan

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