2022 California Small Business Forum & Workshop celebrates AAPI Heritage Month and brings hope to AAPI- and Ethnic-owned small businesses

How can small businesses do business with the state of California? What are the funding programs available to them? What does government contracting involve? Where can small businesses get the tools and resources needed to compete for government contracts?

On May 26th, Silicon Valley Community Media, together with APAPA and American Teo-Chew Foundation, held the 2022 California Small Business Forum and Workshop at Ding Ding TV studio. It was a product of team work between Louis Lam (American Teo-Chew Foundation), Diana Ding (Silicon Valley Community Media), and Henry Yin (APAPA). Over 200 small business owners registered for the workshop online, and over 30 people attended the event in person. Christian Malesic (President/CEO, Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce) and Diana Ding moderated the event.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Asian- and Ethnic-owned small businesses were hit especially hard. The bipartisan $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill directs the agencies to increase contracting spending on small, disadvantaged businesses by 50% over the next five years. It represents a golden opportunity for small AAPI- and Ethnic-owned businesses. However, many small business owners are not aware of the resource available or where to start.

Government contracting requires specialist knowledge. The purpose of the 2022 California Small Business Forum and Workshop was to help Asian and Ethnic communities and small business owners get the tools, resources, and training they need to compete for government contracts. Also, the event organizers considered this to be the best way to give back to the community and celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

Partners on the event were Asian Inc, Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce, US-China Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, CBC and Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), and Ethnic Media Services.

Elected officials and speakers at the event included Fiona Ma (34th California State Treasurer), Lisa Gillmor (Mayor of Santa Clara), Lily Mei (Mayor of Fremont), Chappie Jones (Vice Mayor of San Jose), and Anthony Phan (Milpitas City Council).

The event gathered speakers and experts from several state agencies: the State of California Department of General Services Office of Small Business and DVBE Services / Procurement Division, California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, CBC, and Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).

Fiona Ma (the California State Treasurer) gave a keynote speech on Infrastructure Investment and Job Act. Speakers at the event included: Carlos Gutierrez (Deputy District Director for the San Francisco District Office of the Small Business Administration), Blaine Laney (Consultant with NorCal FDC, Oakland), Teresa Macias-Ruiz (Bilingual Business Outreach Liaison, Office of Small Business and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Services, California Department of General Services), Porter Wong (Senior Consultant of MBDA San Jose Business Center), Eric Zhang (Eric Zhang & Associations LLP and President of Sino-American Public Accountants Association), Joyce Liang (Founder of CBC Life Financial Services, 9 Fortunes Co-Founder), Xiaoyan Zhang, (CEO of KIT Solutions and chairperson for the SBIR grant review panel), and Christopher Earl (Deputy Director and S.Cal. Regional Advisor, Office of the Small Business Advocate).

The experts in attendance covered topics like SBA funding for small businesses and how to do business with the state of California. Other subjects also included where to get help when applying for government contracts and how to get dilution-free R&D resources from the US government for start-ups. Likewise, speakers shared their expertise on a wide variety of topics including taxes, procurement, asset protection, employee retention, and risk financing.

Many attendees shared how useful they found the content provided during the event. Jeff, a business leader, stated this workshop brought hope to him and other Asian-owned small businesses. Eiko, a female entrepreneur, said this was the most resourceful event she has ever attended.


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