Mayor Gavin Newsom plans to submit a ballot measure that will ask voters this November to spend $950,000 to create a one-stop shop at City Hall that would help small businesses — a program that was spurned by the Board of Supervisors during budget negotiations.
In May, Newsom announced plans for the creation of the Small Business Assistance Center, which would help merchants navigate complex city processes such as permitting, provide advice on bidding on city contracts and make resource referrals.
However, members of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee last month refused to award the new program $630,000 in funding, saying the plan was too vague. They instead placed $150,000 on reserve and directed city officials to come back to them with a more detailed plan.
“The mayor believes small business is the backbone of San Francisco’s economy,” Newsom spokesperson Nathan Ballard said. “Putting this on the ballot shows that this is a top priority for the mayor.”
Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin called the ballot effort “silly” and accused the mayor of using it to get exposure for his re-election campaign. Business community members would fund the campaign for the ballot measure, and Newsom would get the exposure, freeof campaign contribution limits.
“All of the e-mail and TV ads will say, ‘Gavin Newsom, candidate for mayor, says, Yes on B,’” Peskin predicted.
Ballard called Peskin’s assertions ridiculous.
The measure — expected to be announced at a press conference today — specifies that the center would have a staff level of five, including one department head, a community outreach manager and three case managers, and would appropriate one-time funding of $950,000. The small-business center would be under the direction of the Small Business Commission, according to the measure.
Scott Hauge of San Francisco Small Business Advocates, who has been working with the Mayor’s Office to develop the ballot measure, said putting resources into the development of small businesses would generate more revenue for The City and benefit the economy.
“We want to take the next step to say this is a new policy direction for San Francisco, that small businesses are a major part of the economic development of this city,” Hauge said.
In the legislation, The City defines a small business as having less than 100 employees. There are 25,500 small businesses in San Francisco and 70,000 people who are self-employed.