OAKLAND – Gov. Gavin Newsom FaceTimed with Marshawn Lynch and turned the pizza dough in Oakland on Thursday at an event to promote California’s support for small business, but which also highlighted many obstacles facing local businesses. entrepreneurs of color have been faced to take advantage of financial aid from the state and the federal government.
The governor was joined by Mayor Libby Schaaf, State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland) and Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, who all urged residents to resume shopping and eat in person at small businesses in their community.
“This is the time for us to put our wallet where our hearts are and that means coming back, spending your money, stopping this order, maybe taking a break from Amazon, coming in and meeting these amazing entrepreneurs,” Schaaf said. . “They are guardians of culture, they are places of community gathering. It’s not something you get when you click.
California’s 4.1 million small businesses are critical to its recovery, Newsom said. They employ nearly half of all workers in the state, and they are a central part of what makes every community and city unique.
“It’s not just about dollars and cents, it’s about magical moments, it’s about community. Small businesses are about community, it’s about people coming together through their differences, ”he said. “We don’t want anywhere in the United States. Oakland is Oakland, it’s a point of pride, it’s a point of distinction.
Skinner echoed that sentiment, also highlighting fees the state has temporarily cut in an attempt to get struggling businesses back on their feet.
“Oakland is coming back, California is coming back,” she said.
The governor first stopped at Beastmode Barbershop, which opened shortly before the pandemic and had to close for 11 months, owner Tyranny Allen said. He opened the store after football superstar Lynch bought the property.
“He gave us the keys and said to start a business and that’s exactly what we did,” Allen said. “The key is ownership, that way we can afford the rent. “
Allen, who then called Lynch on FaceTime so he could say hello to the governor and other elected officials, said he appreciated any help the government could offer small businesses. But his store was not eligible for any grants or pandemic support loans, he said, adding that he was not eligible for loans from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program because his staff is all independent contractors.
Newsom then made it two doors down from Graffiti Pizza, which also opened shortly before the pandemic, but was able to stay afloat with delivery and take-out service. There he unrolled some dough, spinning it in the air, then tasting a slice of cheese pizza already made. Executive Chef Matt Molina said he was “actually very impressed with how (Newsom) launched the pizza”.
Speaking next, the governor touted state grants to small businesses, of which $ 2.5 billion has been distributed so far. About two-thirds of the beneficiaries are people of color and just over half are women. An additional $ 1.5 billion will be distributed with a greater focus on various business owners, he said.
“We cannot come back in force unless small businesses are fully back,” Newsom said.
As part of efforts to get residents back out, the state is expected to announce a vaccine verification system tomorrow, Newsom said, saying it will be an open source program and again insisting on the fact that it would not be a vaccination passport.
“It’s basically taking a map that’s a physical map and digitizing it,” he said. “It’s that simple. There is no passport in California.
Graffiti Pizza co-owner Davina Dickens said visiting elected officials was a big deal. She was able to get a PPP loan but no grants, in part because she opened a store in late 2019 and did not have previous sales data to show losses from COVID-19.
She would like the state to “maybe just relax some of the application guidelines,” she said. “You have to take into account the business owners who opened their doors right before the pandemic, that’s a big deal, I think. “
Cathy Adams, president of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, said she was optimistic about more help for members of her organization who have been hit hard by the pandemic but have struggled to ask loans and grants.
“Some businesses have only one owner, you don’t even have time to fill out the grants,” she said. “I know a lot of people who need money to pay off the rent, they got these leases – some landlords weren’t that friendly, they uprooted them so they could get higher rents.”
She said she was heading straight to her office to start putting together resources for her members and other small business owners of color, potentially pairing them with members of her staff who could help them complete applications. .
“They have the money and (Newsom) said black and minority businesses would be a priority,” Adams said. “Otherwise, I know how to reach him on the phone. “