Recap: 2024 Advocacy Day

Last week, CAMEO Network held our annual Advocacy Day bringing together over 60 small business leaders to advocate for their entrepreneurial clients in Sacramento. It was a huge success: we learned, were inspired, we advocated, and we had fun!

 We welcomed two incredible small business champions as speakers in the morning portion of the event: Clothilde Hewlett, Commissioner of the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI), and Maria Gallegos Herrera, State Director for California for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Commissioner Hewlett talked about how her family of small business owners, including herself, built a healthy infrastructure for her community by creating intergenerational wealth through business ownership.  She understands how important transparency in lending is and that the small businesses who can’t obtain bank funding have access to fair lending. That’s why she’s defending SB 1235.

Commission Hewlett was asked about California’s experience providing Truth in Lending transparency standards and financial protections to small businesses. Her answer? “Well, we’ve found that providing protections to small businesses didn’t wreck our economy – it boosted our economy.” Healthy small businesses are a healthy economy!

Director Gallegos Herrera spoke about additional barriers that rural businesses face – lack of clean water, lack of housing and lack of fast internet service. She emphasized the importance of telling your stories. The work that their agencies do is one of the reasons why California is a leader in the small business development space.

In the afternoon, our attendees put on their advocate hats and made their way to the Capitol, where they met with more than 40 legislative offices from both the Senate and the Assembly. NBC Bay Area reported on our advocacy efforts, featuring an interview with local business owner and Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center alum, Lina Mills, and CAMEO Network CEO, Carolina Martinez, who laid out the reasons why lawmakers should support small business development programs. Some of those reasons include:

  • Diverse, very small businesses are crucial to California’s economy and long term resiliency.
  • The last three years have experienced historic growth in small business creation.
  • CAMEO Network members are wealth creators and provide critical support – the ecosystem is important to the success.
  • Business assistance is the key to success and the first step in capital access.
  • ‘Affordable’ capital access is important and crucial to growth.

This year, with California facing a budget deficit, the stakes are high. The governor’s May revised budget included a 56.5% budget cut to California’s Small Business Technical Assistance Program, which would slash capacity and programming at Small Business Development Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and other small business assistance organizations. Advocacy Day attendees met with legislative offices to educate them on the importance of these programs for the business owners, their families, their local economies and the State’s bottom line. Our collective advocacy efforts worked because we were able to show the data of job creation and increased economic activity and tax revenues as well as tell the stories of our small business clients. Lawmakers’ Joint Legislative Budget Plan rejected cuts to California’s Small Business Technical Assistance Program and re-instated the program’s budget. Click here to send an email to the Governor’s office expressing your support for the Legislature’s budget.

We also met with legislative offices to advance CAMEO Network’s three sponsored bills, which you can support:

  • On responsible small business lending:
    • SB 1286 (Min) – This bill prohibits abuse in the collection of a small business debt by prescribing dignified, non-abusive and non-deceitful acts in commercial debt collection.
    • SB 1482 (Glazer) – This bill will establish a framework of transparency for brokers, put non-loan financing companies under the purview of DFPI, and close loopholes in price disclosure regulations.
  • On small commercial tenant protections:
    • SB 1103 (Menjivar) – This bill will expand translation requirements for leases, increase transparency of fees, and increase notice periods for contract termination or rent increases.

We also made sure that our legislators know that the people who benefit the most from our members’ business coaching services and the ones who are suffering most from predatory loans, abusive debt collecting practices, and commercial leasing problems are those entrepreneurs and small business owners of color, women, rural, veterans, disabled persons, i.e. the ones who need our ecosystem the most.

Thank you to all of our members and partners who joined us at Advocacy Day to speak out on behalf of the most vulnerable small businesses!

Download our talking points handouts: