SMALL BUSINESSES ARE THE HEART OF SAN DIEGO’S ECONOMY

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August 30, 2018

The following is a guest post from U.S. Congresswoman Susan Davis, representative for the 53rd District in San Diego County. Back in her home district for Congress’ summer recess, Congresswoman Davis toured two small businesses to inform the owners of federal resources available to them and to hear first-hand how SBA financing helped their businesses grow and create jobs.

It takes courage to start your own small business. Maybe you left your 9-5 job with an idea or maybe you are still working full time and building your business in your free time. It can be a little scary and exhilarating all at once.

Entrepreneurs need the support of family and friends to take that plunge into being their own boss. The federal government also can provide support and resources to help launch a small business – most notably through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

For over six decades, the SBA has helped entrepreneurs and small businesses with loans and other resources. I recently had the opportunity to see the benefits of support from the SBA up close. In August, I toured two local small businesses in the Hillcrest area that were aided by SBA loans.

Domusstudio bought and renovated this building into a showcase office

The first business – Domusstudio Architecture – is an architectural firm originally founded in 1986. Domusstudio partners utilized a loan to purchase and remodel their current building.

Award-winning architectural firm buys building, creates showcase office with SBA loan

John Pyjar, Principal Partner at Domusstudio Architecture, informed me that their recent expansion and move into their new building would not have been possible without an SBA 504 loan. The low down-payment and interest rate on the loan ensured that they would be able to afford the purchase and actually turn their office into an appreciable asset instead of an additional expense.

Domusstudio regularly employs interns from local high schools who are interested in learning more about a career in architecture. My question to him was how easily they were able to find talent and whether an apprenticeship program was feasible for the field of architecture.

As the Ranking Member of the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee, creating a quality and skilled force is a top priority for me. I recently introduced the Accessing Professional Partnerships and Resources to Enable Necessary Training and Improve Career Education (APPRENTICE) Act to establish a grant program to expand apprenticeships.

Congresswoman Susan Davis hears from Domusstudio partner John Pyjar

John expressed the importance of maintaining close relationships with local architecture schools to ensure students are learning the necessary skills to succeed in this field. He asked that Congress look into ways to ensure there are relationships among schools and industry to make sure students are equipped with relevant knowledge and experience – something I am working on in Congress.

John expressed his thanks to CDC Small Business Finance for their assistance in facilitating the SBA 504 loan. He felt that anything the government can do to improve the process of applying for and receiving loans would be appreciated by the business community. The flexibility of the loan allowed his business to expand and prepare for additional growth.

Another business I visited was Swami’s Cafe in Hillcrest, a local restaurant chain specializing in healthy, “natural” offerings.  Swami’s-Hillcrest will hold a Grand Re-Opening Friday, Sept. 14, to celebrate its change to a full-service restaurant.

Successful restaurateur uses SBA 504 loan to purchase Swami’s #11

Swami’s Cafe owner Jaime Osuna utilized an SBA 504 loan to purchase his newest location in Hillcrest. His district manager, Jose Ruesga, talked about their best practices for worker retention and the training necessary to prepare their new workers. Swami’s utilizes a central location in North Park to train their cooks and other staff before sending them to one of the 10 other locations around San Diego.

Jose Ruesga (L) of Swami’s greets Congresswoman Davis and Kurt Chilcott of CDC Small Business Finance outside Hillcrest eatery

The SBA 504 loan has helped Swami’s expand into new markets around San Diego and experiment with different service styles. Swami’s hopes to grow further by purchasing an another building using an SBA loan for a new restaurant in Poway.

The SBA is more than just loans. It provides resources in the way of advice and mentoring, especially for women, minorities and veterans. It also helps steer federal contracts to small business.

Paving the way for small businesses to secure federal contracts

This is also something I’ve been working to achieve in Congress: making it easier for small businesses to gain access to federal defense contracts. Being a defense town, San Diego is a recipient of many federal contracts and dollars. We have small businesses fully capable to handle those contracts. We just need to be sure they are getting fair access.

“The SBA is more than just loans. It provides resources in the way of advice and mentoring, especially for women, minorities and veterans.”

Congresswoman Susan Davis

Another resource San Diego’s small businesses should look to: my office. If you need help with any federal agency, including the SBA, please do not to hesitate to reach out to my office at (619) 280-5353.

CDC Small Business CEO Kurt Chilcott facilitated my tour of the small businesses. CDC Small Business has helped many entrepreneurs in San Diego gain access to SBA financing as a way to help them launch and expand successful small business as well as create new jobs in the community.

Anyone thinking of starting their own business need not go it alone. There are many resources at your fingertips to turn a dream into a reality. I encourage these entrepreneurs to seek out those valuable resources.

In case you missed it, here are a couple other inspiring stories of entrepreneurs making waves in the small business world:
3 Wise Business Moves that Helped Fashion Maven Start Own Indie Retail Shop
A Knack for Sushi and Finding Affordable Financing to Grow

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