Op-Ed: Coronavirus: Why California's small businesses may not survive

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COVID-19 has revealed the deep vulnerabilities of California's bifurcated economy of immense tech wealth and low-paying service businesses.

admit, has been tilted in favor of Wall Street and larger firms. Particularly excluded, note local advocates, have been smaller, often immigrant-run businesses which lack strong bank relations. They also often lack savings and much of their business is cash-based. Still others are owned and operated by noncitizens, some of them undocumented people.

In many neighborhoods, there is widespread concern that local owners of small shops, apartment buildings and commercial properties won’t be able to hang on and will be taken over by outside investors with no tie to the area. The need for social distancing protocols has worked against small stores that rely heavily on personal contact with customers and can’t make up all of their revenues through online sales.

“The business owners are scared,” suggests Mirabel Garcia, who works on micro-loans for the East L.A.-based. “They are worried they will not be able to hold on against Wall Street and the big investors.” California will emerge from this crisis, but what kind of state will it be? The power of the tech oligarchy — the biggest winners during the coronavirus crisis — will likely further their hegemony. But the reality for most in the business sector will be far less grand: empty stores, broken dreams,

and less opportunity for the kinds of entrepreneurs who created California’s century of economic dynamism.In this economic crisis, state government needs to look out for the interests of grassroots entrepreneurs. This includes helping smaller firms adjust to new social distancing requirements and providing technical assistance so they can better compete with megastores or Amazon.

 

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