May 25, 2018, SAN FRANCISCO –
The CalAsian Chamber convened a business roundtable conversation with Assemblymember Phil Ting in his district in San Francisco on Friday, May 25th. In attendance were a mix of local small businesses, economic development organizations, API community partners, and Asian media outlets.
San Francisco’s small business community is thriving and its diversity is a huge part of the city’s character, making it a place where people want to live and work. But rising rents, lack of adequate housing, and growing congestion are a few of the challenges local businesses face.
The CalAsian Chamber is grateful for Assemblymember Ting’s support of small businesses, especially as traditional models are being disrupted and businesses are looking to adapt. Today’s event is a great example of inclusive dialogue that gives voice to the local business community and the partners who work hard to support them.
Topics of discussion included: urban congestion, adequate housing, empty storefronts, the gig economy, homelessness, small business lending, and education infrastructure.
Beyond adding transportation infrastructure, which is a long-term solution, what can be done in the short-term? Many city workers live outside of the city and commute in since there is probably a 40% premium for living in the city; in addition, the rise in the popularity of ride-sharing has brought many more cars into the city to meet consumer demand. The city can accommodate more pedestrians and bikers, and solutions must encourage these forms of transportation.
SF only has shelter beds for about 30% of its homeless population on any given night. It is a crisis and there needs to be a longer-term solution; Assemblymember Ting is hopeful, but residents must take a hard look at the best use of space – commercial vs. residential as well as how to support inclusive development.
Empty Storefronts and the Gig Economy
There has been a shift in how people shop and businesses must adjust to this new reality. We must be able to differentiate between transitional and permanent state funding to facilitate this transition. In addition, opening businesses in SF is an onerous process and need to be streamlined. The state must figure out how to regulate the new “gig economy” as people are increasingly willing to pay to deliver services. Still, much of SF’s value is its unique neighborhood character, and businesses play a large role in shaping this.
Assemblymember Ting is concerned about the disparity between the traditional college degree and transition jobs. We must ramp up education to meet our workforce needs so that workers have the skillsets necessary to transition out of minimum wage jobs and into the next economy. Apprenticeship programs are important, as is speeding up the course approval process; our system needs to be more flexible. The Governor’s online community colleges is one way to meet this need.