By Christie Marcella Economic Development Manager City of Carlsbad
As the City of Carlsbad’s new Economic Development Manager, I’m often amazed at the wealth of resources that are dedicated to helping small businesses establish and grow to achieve their dreams for success. In my first few months on the job, I’ve met with organizations throughout the region that offer professional services, often at no cost to newly fledged businesses. A Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce membership provides excellent opportunities to network with other local businesses, and as long as you maintain your membership you will have access to myriad resources that will help you succeed.
In addition to the Chamber there are many other organizations that help small businesses, and here are some of them.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership is an organization that runs the region’s job centers and offers training reimbursement to companies that employ jobseekers in their programs. The partnership also offers free human resources advice to any business with personnel issues. You can reach them by calling their hotline at (866) 441-9399. Visit the Workforce Partnership’s website at workforce.org.
Several State of California programs help you offset the costs of training new employees or growing your business. The Employment Training Panel (etp.ca.gov) provides funding to employers to assist in upgrading skills or training new workers in well-paying, long-term jobs. The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development has many programs, such as tax relief for new equipment purchases and employment growth, to help businesses grow. The California Business Portal (businessportal.ca.gov) shows the many programs the state offers to retain businesses.
Carlsbad is fortunate to have formed a partnership with MiraCosta College and its Technology Career Institute, because the North San Diego Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is located at the city-owned site, 2075 Las Palmas Drive, in the heart of the city’s business hub. The SBDC has specialists who directly help small businesses access resources that help them get on their feet and grow. They also conduct hundreds of workshops every year geared to developing small business skills. Last year the Small Business Development Center added a new service, the SOCAL Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), which has the mission of helping veteran-owned businesses succeed. For information about the SBDC visit sandiegosmallbiz.com.
Another important resource is the Small Business Administration, the federal organization tasked with making sure small businesses succeed and contribute to a strong national economy. The federal government mandates that at least 23 percent of all dollars awarded for federal contracts go to small businesses. That amounted to $108.5 billion in 2016. That’s right, billion.
Understanding whether the government considers you to be a small business is an important first step to accessing federal programs. Size determinations vary by industry and are usually based on a business’ North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS code. The Small Business Administration’s website offers a useful tool to small business eligibility, at sba.gov/tools/size-standards-tool.
The SBA San Diego District Office has a new program called Winning Work, which is designed to streamline the government contracting process for small businesses. Winning Work helps small businesses qualify for admission into the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program, which aids socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners.
“Winning Work is designed to help small disadvantaged businesses compete for government contracting opportunities,” says John Engstrom, business opportunity specialist with the Small Business Administration’s San Diego District. “Winning Work works closely with the local Procurement and Technical Assistance Center to help identify contracts, develop marketing materials and meet government buyers.”
It’s my passion to make sure our business community knows about the workshops, organizations and financial resources that they can leverage to stay and thrive in our great city.