Richmond Small Business Support
In response to the needs of restaurants and this new available funding stream, Councilmembers Jimenez and Willis and a team of volunteers developed a plan and materials to perform outreach to small businesses (and the formalized systems that support them, such as the City of Richmond and local business organizations) in March 2021. The primary goals of this outreach effort was to administer a survey of COVID-19 impacts to Richmond eateries and spread awareness about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund within the American Rescue Plan.The team contacted over 100 restaurants and surveyed 41%.
In addition to the devastating health and safety impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of United States workers have experienced significant economic repercussions. Many small businesses have suffered due to necessary Shelter in Place orders initiated by Contra Costa County and the State of California.
This employment crisis has uniquely impacted people of color, women, young people, immigrants, and the formerly incarcerated that America’s restaurants and bars employ. At least 110,000 restaurants and bars closed since the pandemic’s start.
Passage of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 included a $28.6 billion grant program for struggling restaurants and bars, the first federal grant program available to help restaurants and bars since the pandemic began.
Outreach To and Within Richmond Small Business Community
Findings from the survey guided a set of recommendations brought to to City Council by Councilmembers Jimenez and Willis on May 4, 2021. A presentation was provided to City Council on major findings of the outreach project and recommendations were made to city staff regarding improving data collection, analysis and publication of data relating to small businesses and to develop infrastructure to better support small businesses to obtain funding at the state and federal level. The council voted unanimously in support of the recommendations. Check out a few highlights from the council meeting here.
National and nearby data suggests disproportionate distribution of financial resources to primarily large and white-owned businesses and lack of investment and targeted outreach to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned small businesses, and businesses in economically impacted neighborhoods. Unfortunately, Richmond’s data collection efforts don't seem to have captured the detail necessary to discern whether these trends have similarly occurred in our community. Thus, a key finding of this outreach effort is that data collection and analysis could be improved.
Measure U Implementation Updates
Measure U’s November passage via ballot initiative shifted the City of Richmond’s Business License Tax calculation methodology to be based on gross receipts instead of the number of employees. The structure revision was designed with the intention to lessen expenses for businesses earning low revenue, bring more equity to the taxation process by having large corporations pay their fair share and generate new revenue for the city to support services for Richmond residents.
Measure U passed with 73 percent voter approval via ballot initiative in November 2020. According to analysis by the City of Richmond, change in the tax code could increase the city’s revenues by nearly $6 million dollars. While start date for Measure U was slated for July 1, 2021, it was extended to January 1, 2022 to allow for adequate stakeholder outreach, staffing needs analysis and implementation planning. Significant effort will be needed to guide businesses in transitioning to the new structure and combating misinformation.