On January 23, the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics held its California Policy Summit. The event’s focus was to discuss policy solutions to the state’s current and future economic challenges. The annual summit convened economic development stakeholders from all across the state and the federal level. These include government officials, academics, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs.
One of the topics they focused on was “Entrepreneur Support and Small Business Creation.” The key insights from the session are summarized below:
- Small businesses are the backbone of the California economy. But small business owners face many challenges including high costs, taxes, and barriers to capital. The most affected subsets are women and minority entrepreneurs.
- The racial wealth gap is a persistent problem. Nonprofits have tried to address this, but it cannot be properly tackled without policy solutions.
- Improving access to capital is paramount. Policies to address the issue could include financial education for business owners, more lending options, and simplified processes for licensing and certification.
- Underserved communities could see a growth boost with modifications to the Opportunity Zones program.
- The state could take advantage of the booming film industry by building capacity to generate opportunities for small businesses.
The Center also shared some recommendations to address the aforementioned issues:
- Create a California SME Advisory Team to support access to capital initiatives and promote investment.
- Engage public and private sector stakeholders to recommend specific policies. These should meet the needs of small business owners and showcase best practices.
- Propose legislation to identify and remove barriers to capital in government procurement opportunities, focusing particularly on women and minority entrepreneurs.
These recommendations are a good start. We at CAMEO would love to see some recommendations from the Local Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Toolkit included. Our toolkit lists many suggestions that are being implemented around the country and could benefit by scaling up or replication. We look forward to hearing more about the efforts of the Center for Regional Economics on ensuring that underserved entrepreneurs have access to the resources they need to thrive.