Advocacy Day Success!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who attended Advocacy Day 2021! Nearly 100 attendees made it our best Advocacy Day yet – and the mood was celebratory. The hard work and dedication of our sector to lift up the smallest and most vulnerable small businesses and entrepreneurs during one of the most challenging years in recent memory is cause for a toast. The work is not finished and we had lots to talk about in relation to current and upcoming programs that continue the efforts to provide relief for your neediest clients. 

We were honored to welcome two amazing speakers: Mark Madrid, Associate Administrator, Office of Entrepreneurial Development for the SBA; and Tara Lynn Gray, Director, Office of the Small Business Advocate, ‎California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). Their passion for the work they’re doing on behalf of small businesses was genuinely inspiring!

After opening up with his touching personal story, Mark Madrid talked about the Administration’s efforts to shore up the small businesses and entrepreneurs that were left behind in previous rounds of relief. “Small businesses owned by people of color and women secured PPP funding at higher levels in 2021. And so did the smallest of the small businesses. In fact, 96% of PPP loans in the 2021 draw went to small businesses with 20 employees or less.” 

Mark also spoke about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $28.6 billion program which has prioritized applications from micro-businesses and small businesses owned by economically disadvantaged individuals. Finally, he introduced us to the recently launched Community Navigator Pilot program – which aims to help small businesses get the resources and support they need through targeted outreach conducted by selected partners. Mark explained the program’s “hub and spoke” model through which large and small organizations can coordinate in order to reach chronically underserved communities with funding and resources.

Tara Lynn Gray spoke enthusiastically about her office’s mission to support California’s small businesses, and the Governor’s efforts to continue providing relief in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such efforts include $2.5 billion for the California Relief Grant program. “Those grants have gone to overwhelmingly low-to-moderate income individuals, women, rural entrepreneurs, and ethnic groups.”  The Governor has also requested another $1.5 billion to be added to the grant program, which if approved, would bring the total to $4 billion – the largest such program in the nation. From what we can tell, Tara is going all-in to help our small businesses.

After our speakers’ presentations, 46 CAMEO members met with 18 legislative offices to advocate on behalf of the state budget and our other micro-business priorities. The support from legislators and their staff was overwhelmingly positive and we can’t wait to continue working with them to make these policies a reality. A big shout out to Senator Monique Limón and Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris for attending.

And it wouldn’t have been a CAMEO event without some fun. If you missed our happy hour, you’ll want to make sure not to miss the next one. Our happy hour resulted in some great drink recommendations:

  • Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey: the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States, Nearest Green.
  • Freeland Spirits:  one of very few women-owned and run distilleries in history. Gin, Bourbon, cocktails and more! 
  • And our Bay Berry Fizz recipe demonstrated by CAMEO staff, Liza Rivera, Outreach Manager.