For the 2018 Legislative Session, the CalAsian Chamber has identified three priority policy areas that impact California’s API and small businesses:
International Trade and Investment
Although trade policy is determined at the federal level, its impact on California is immense. California is currently the sixth largest economy in the world, with an estimated gross state product (GSP) of $2.6 trillion and one of the fastest growth rates in the country.
The U.S. currently holds 14 free trade agreements (FTAs) with 20 countries. In 2016, California exported $163 billion in goods – 40 percent of which flowed to FTA partners – supporting an estimated 700,000 local jobs and 72,000 small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). SMEs account for 96% of the state’s good exporters. There is significant competitive advantage for businesses that choose to enter foreign markets, and they are twice as likely to export as non-minority companies.
CAPCC supports the expansion of international trade and investment. This includes fair and equitable market access for California’s products – focused largely, but not exclusively, on nearby Pacific Rim countries – and the elimination of disincentives that hinder the global competitiveness of small businesses. CAPCC supports trade opportunities for small businesses that help to create more local jobs while protecting intellectual property and the environment.
Procurement and Contracting
The State of California spends billions each year on goods, information technology, services, construction, and public works contracts. California small businesses comprise nearly 98 percent of all businesses in the state, employing more than half of the workforce and generating over half of the state’s GSP. California should lead the nation in affording all businesses equal access to state agency contracting opportunities. Expanding opportunities for small business participation in state contracting would encourage competition and preserve the free enterprise system.
CAPCC supports policies that encourage small business participation and competition for government contracts. This includes advocating on behalf of supplier diversity and inclusion in contracting opportunities.
One of the most considerable challenges facing small businesses in California today is compliance with regulation coming from the federal, state and local levels. Unlike large corporations, small business owners are not typically equipped with the staffing and expertise required to easily comply with the required mandates, making it more difficult for them to keep their businesses running and continue to compete. CAPCC supports policies that bring regulatory fairness, reform and relief from excessive regulatory burdens on California’s small business owners.
CalAsian will also actively track policy areas that are likely to affect access and opportunities for the API small business community throughout the state:
As a forward-leaning organization, CAPCC has become actively involved in the evolution of the emerging cannabis industry throughout the state. The development of local and state policies to regulate this new industry has created high demand for knowledge and education, particularly from small businesses and entrepreneurs.
CAPCC aims to provide a network of education, information, and resources that help to clarify the quickly evolving abundance of regulatory guidelines in California’s cannabis industry. It seeks to advocate on behalf of the API and small business community as the cannabis industry’s regulatory scheme continues to unfold, improve their understanding and compliance with cannabis regulation, and closely track legislation that may affect their ability to compete in this industry.
The impacts of climate change around the world disproportionately hit minority and poor communities that hardest, and the same goes for the state of California. Minority and poor populations are more likely to die from extreme heat waves, breathe polluted air, suffer from economic downturns in climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture and tourism, be vulnerable to floods and other natural disasters, and struggle to afford rising energy costs.
CAPCC supports environmental justice to close the climate gap, and this includes ensuring that policies promoting the green economy offer realistic pathways for the most climate-vulnerable populations to transition amidst a shifting workforce.
The housing crisis is a threat to the long-term health of California’s economy. Home prices and rent have increased dramatically, forcing working families to spend a significant portion of their incomes on housing. The lack of affordable housing makes it more difficult for employers to recruit workers, thus limiting the available labor force. Housing costs are also a factor in the increase of homelessness in many parts of the state. Moreover, minorities and immigrants have a disproportionate share in the housing crisis as they are likely to have lower incomes than the population in general.
CAPCC supports policy solutions that will spur housing development for different income levels, increase local accountability for producing a fair share of housing; and streamline regulation efforts that can help add to the additional housing the state needs.
California is home to more than 10 million immigrants, making up about 27 percent of the state’s residents and one-third of its labor force. Almost 40 percent of these immigrants are small business owners who bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the state, generating $21.8 billion in business revenue. Immigrants are business owners, workers, taxpayers, and neighbors who are an integral part of California’s diverse communities and strengthen its economy through their many contributions.
Through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, approximately 800,000 undocumented young people across the country have received temporary relief from deportation. Research shows that DACA recipients drive economic growth through their impact on employment, earnings, and education and will contribute over $460 billion to U.S. GDP over the next decade.
Nevertheless, federal immigration policies are more fractured than ever, creating uncertainty for businesses and the workforce. Comprehensive immigration reform is critical to provide confidence to employers, employees, and their families.
CAPCC supports policies that allow immigrants a clear path to citizenship; reform temporary worker programs to allow employers to hire for jobs requiring specialized skills and knowledge that cannot be filled by U.S. workers; support government efforts to provide legal service funding and establish fair, compassionate, and practical solutions for undocumented immigrants seeking immigration status relief.
CAPCC believes that small businesses should have options in finding healthcare coverage for their business and employees and works to remove excessive regulation and other barriers to affordable and accessible healthcare. In addition, Californians within the API community face health challenges that include heart disease, hypertension and diabetes and differ by each API subgroup; CAPCC recognizes the various health concerns of the API community and supports efforts to address them.
Fair and just treatment of all members of the community is essential to providing more equitable opportunities and the ability to freely exercise their rights, be it in business ventures, at the Capitol, within the legal system, or in educational institutions. Any rhetoric or action that poses a threat to tolerance, inclusion, and equality negatively impacts the way a society functions, and the business community is well-positioned to stand firmly in defense of morality and human rights.
CAPCC fully supports diversity and inclusion and advocates for policies that promote these important values across the entire business spectrum as well as within the API community.
Technology and Innovation
California is the nation’s technology leader in job creation and innovation. Home to more than 1.1 million employees in the technology sector alone, California continues to benefit from private sector investment and economic growth year after year. With Californians continuing to embrace cutting-edge technologies, the state’s economic growth and technology adoption go hand in hand. Investing in innovation for new technology across all sectors – autonomous vehicles in the transportation sector, for instance – and promoting widespread broadband and wireless accessibility is key to maintaining California’s role as a global leader in innovation, technology, and communications.
CAPCC advocates for information technology and telecommunication technology policies that advance free and open competition, promote a highly educated and technical workforce, encourage collaboration and cooperation in ideas and technology, and advance regulations that positively impact the ability of the private sector to effectively research, develop, integrate, manufacture, service and market solutions in the global marketplace.
A skilled and educated workforce is integral to the success of California’s small businesses and their ability to compete locally and abroad. California needs a workforce that is competent, competitive, creative, and prepared to meet the needs of the state’s economy and employers as they continue to transform. For these reasons, investment in public education is paramount – student achievement is the single best public policy predictor of a thriving state economy. Employers will be more competitive and workers will benefit as those with higher levels of education and training earn higher wages.
CAPCC supports policies that increase workforce development programs and make higher education and vocational education more accessible and affordable.