We stand with Black, Indigenous, and other San Diegans of color in acknowledging the far-reaching and violent impact of systemic racism on our community.
The mission of Business For Good San Diego is simple: to unite business owners and drive policy that strengthens and improves San Diego for everyone.
And to us it’s more clear than ever how crucial our role is in making that happen.
Our communities of color continue to be hit the hardest. From COVID to unemployment and homelessness to climate change, these individuals disproportionately weather the worst of the storm.
We can plainly see how inequity festers all around us: The inadequate funding of disaster relief support for underserved small businesses amidst a pandemic. The unspeakable and ongoing acts of police brutality against Black Americans. The fact that the Black Lives Matter movement requires justification. The continual apathy for the traumatic lived experiences of Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
All of this proves there is no such thing as “the great equalizer” in a system that’s been constructed to maintain inequity. As Americans, we can no longer ignore the call to reckon with the inequality built into our infrastructure.
BFG believes that equity, in all its forms, must be infused into everything we do as a society. We cannot tolerate more years of tepid policies that fail to invoke meaningful change for our communities that need it the most.
Our policy positions will always consider racial equity an essential element of earning our support.
In the months since the spread of COVID-19 and racial justice uprising around the globe, we have given serious consideration to what policy actions we can take to advance equitable change here in San Diego right now. As a start, we’ve signed on to support four distinct policy initiatives that we feel are most crucial to improving our local communities.
Since BFG is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization, coming together to identify these key policy initiatives was no easy feat.
Our dedicated board and general members have spent the bulk of their waking hours since March trying to keep their own local businesses afloat. They’ve worked tirelessly to continue to protect the safety, health, and income of their employees, families, and communities.
Yet despite their own hardships, they still (virtually) show up on behalf of BFG at press conferences, make their voice heard at city council hearings and meetings of the County Board of Supervisors, and actively engage in coalition meetings. Their actions reflect the extent to which our members believe in our organization’s core values of equity and justice, because each of us knows that a San Diego that doesn’t reflect the priorities of all our communities is untenable at best, and downright destructive at its worst.
While we recognize that there is more work to do, our starting point is that everything we support has explicit elements that support racial justice, equity and inclusion for Black, Indigenous and other People of Color in San Diego.
Initiative # 1: Centering Equity in the City’s Gas & Electric Franchise Agreements
“In a franchise agreement, the City of San Diego allows a utility the exclusive right to use the city’s public rights-of-way for transmission and distribution as well as installing wires, poles, power lines and underground gas and electric lines,” writes Rob Nikolweski of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
San Diego Gas & Electric currently holds the franchise agreement. But that expires in January 2021, which will mark the first time in half a century that a new pact can be negotiated. This presents an extraordinary opportunity to hold the winning franchisee accountable for creating true environmental and social equity going forward.
Business For Good signed on to Climate Action Campaign’s Support Centering Community and Equity in the Franchise Agreements initiative. In it, we demand that the city accepts a cash payment only, increases the Minimum Bid, dedicates the cash funds to equitable Climate Action Plan implementation, and requires biennial audits in order to ensure just application of its benefits and protections. These guidelines are key to putting communities of color at the center of equitable development.
Initiative # 2: Prioritized Disaster Relief Funding for Underserved Small Businesses
Many San Diego small businesses and underserved communities had extreme difficulty accessing the billions of dollars of disaster-relief funds afforded in the CARES Act because they did not have existing business relationships with large banks.
If we want San Diego to recover economically from COVID, we need to approach recovery using an equity framework.
In July, we signed onto two viable initiatives designed to prioritize the remaining billions of CARES disaster relief aid for underserved small businesses: Page 30 Coalition and the County Small Business Stimulus Program, forged by the Strategic Alliance of San Diego Ethnic Chambers of Commerce.
Page 30 Coalition helps ensure that our federal government’s approach to disseminating CARES funding includes the following:
- Prioritize funding to minority owned small businesses
- Equitable application process that is not on a first come, first served basis, with a pre-application review period, and provided in-language
- Provide outreach to historically underserved communities for this grant opportunity
- Provide funding to support small businesses with free technical assistance
What’s more, Page 30 Coalition is now lobbying Congress to get full and immediate forgiveness of loans less than $150,000 to all women- and BIPOC-owned businesses.
The County Small Business Stimulus Program urges our Board of Supervisors to adhere to the same tenets of the Page 30 Coalition when distributing the CARES funding that has been allotted for San Diego County businesses.
Initiative #3: San Diego Food Vision 2030
The San Diego Food System Alliance works hard to cultivate a healthy, sustainable, and just food system throughout San Diego County.
The food supply in our country is heavily consolidated. This contributes to climate change and loss of biodiversity. Structural inequities have kept marginalized communities—particularly Black, Indigenous, and people of color—from accessing healthy food or having the power to determine their food environments.
This is unacceptable. Particularly during COVID, when access to fresh, nutritional food is even less attainable for many families throughout San Diego.
We wholeheartedly agree with SDFSA that our food system provides significant opportunities to elevate social, environmental, and economic equity for all. Business For Good has signed on our full support of SDFSA’s San Diego County Food Vision 2030: a multi-year initiative, starting right now, to bring about a healthier, more sustainable, and more just food system in San Diego County by the year 2030.
Initiative # 4: Homes for San Diegans
Homelessness comes at the end of a long path where many social systems have broken down. In San Diego, one of those breakdowns is undeniably the lack of access to affordable housing. And as usual, people of color—Black Americans in particular—are at the highest risk of experiencing chronic homelessness here as a result.
84% of voters think local government should be doing more to address affordable housing in the San Diego area. We couldn’t agree more.
We’ve unequivocally signed on to the San Diego Housing Federation’s “Homes for San Diegans” initiative. If passed, this $900 million housing bond on the November 2020 ballot will provide homes for close to 2,500 veterans, seniors, transition age youth, and disabled persons currently at risk of homelessness in our city.
Our next step is to engage with San Diego’s business communities currently supporting BIPOC entrepreneurs and businesses.
We are incredibly proud of our devoted Business for Good board and general members working to support—and in some instances, directly help craft—these initiatives that move us ever closer to our goal of creating a more just San Diego.
But we also recognize that there is more we can do to help. Although racial equity is not one of our four core policy action areas, we understand that it underpins all the policies we support. As such, we’re actively involved in an ongoing process to identify other specific organizations, leaders, and initiatives that will allow us, in policy work and in community, to commit to being more inclusive and equitable. More on that to come.
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