As a small-business owner, Robinson argues that the single most effective way to improve the California economy over the next several years is for entrepreneurs like himself to band together to gain economic clout. He adds that access to financing remains the most critical problem for small businesses.
“In light of the recent happenings--taking away of affirmative action--the real niche in small business for California is going to be providing services to private corporations in industries like oil refining, plastics, manufacturing and high technology. Small businesses need to form consortiums. Instead of one company bidding against several companies that provide the same services, I think we need to join with a number of different companies to provide a broader base of service . . . [and] we need to create a financing program to level the playing field for small, minority, women-owned and disadvantaged businesses.”
WILL IT WORK?
Until small businesses have access to low-cost capital, it will be difficult for them to compete in increasingly global markets.
Griego, an entrepreneur herself, argues that the one step California needs to take is promoting the growth of flexible small enterprises.
“We need to make Los Angeles the epicenter of the industrial district. A lot of people are saying that manufacturing is dead, that there is no way to compete with low-wage foreign areas. But we have 15,000 small and medium manufacturers in the neglected and poor areas of Los Angeles alone. They take in $54 billion a year in annual revenue and have 360,000 employees. That is a very strong industrial base. It isn’t like they have been devastated as they have on the East Coast. The only question is how to strengthen them, and I think they can compete by their flexibility and by working with one another.”
WILL IT WORK?
It is already taking place in informal ways, and the trend is likely to continue. But to truly thrive, businesses must cooperate and learn from each other. Ethnic businesses must learn how to expand beyond their market. Government cannot make this happen. People must do it.