Happy New Year, PCV community!
As we turn the corner from 2020 into 2021, I am reminded that even in the darkest of times, we need to look for the light. And if we don’t find it, we need to be the light. There’s a vaccine rolling out as we write this, which gives us hope that it’s only a matter of months before our Main Streets and communities can feel fresh energy again. But for too many, that hope feels too far, when they’re struggling with business closures, unemployment, evictions, and food shortages at levels not seen in this country in a hundred years. As much pandemic fatigue as many of us may be feeling 10 months into this crisis, we have to remember that it was our small business owners and their essential workers who kept our local economies going while many of us work safely from home. And if we, like the new Administration our country is also welcoming in this month, are to kick into recovery mode this year — we must center the essential needs of our essential workers if we are to build forward better, which means centering good quality jobs, people and communities of color for a more inclusive recovery.
We’ve been working hard at PCV to do everything we can to prepare our teams, and our communities to meet their needs and be poised for growth when they’re ready. We’re a founding CDFI of the California Rebuilding Fund (apply here!), and as of December we were the first CDFI to make a Rebuilding Fund loan, and the first CDFI to hit $1 million in recovery loans made. We’re also working with FOUND/LA to make and distribute small grants to Los Angeles-based businesses (more info here!) and in the last two weeks, we’ve begun working with Lendistry, the California Governor’s Office, and others to help deliver $500 million in grants to small businesses across the state (apply here — deadline extended to January 13).
And we’re not working in California alone. This fall we launched The Small Business Support Circle to build a strong, equitable small business ecosystem. We’ve signed on community partners like Appalachian Community Capital, CNote, 1863 Ventures, Hope Credit Union, ICIC, Justine Petersen, LISC, and SF New Deal and we’re closing the advice gap for small business owners from coast to coast. In 2020 our pro bono advisors worked with over 1,000 small business owners, in more languages, more places than ever before, and we’re aiming to serve over a thousand more this year.
One thing that we learned in the jobless recovery from the 2008 financial crisis is that we must intentionally center good jobs in everything we do if we want to invest in a people-powered economic transformation ahead. The recovery from the last recession was built on bad jobs, with lower wages, fewer benefits, unstable schedules, and precarious “gig” work for tens of millions for too many who wanted and needed more. The creative economy we are in now and headed towards requires investment in our people, their ideas, more than we’ve done for decades. That’s why PCV’s Good Jobs Agenda is at the heart of our business model, and everything we’re doing this year.
In two weeks we’re also going to welcome a new administration, which means new opportunities to center good jobs and a just recovery for our country’s business model too. We published a discussion paper called Meeting The Moment, which outlines dozens of Federal policies that can and should be enacted by the Biden administration to bolster impact and community investing. We also held a series of discussions on building a stronger, more equitable economy through smart federal policy, and we’re actively working to see some of these ideas come to life.
There are several proposals that we’re going to emphasize in all of our discussions with policymakers across the federal government, from Congress to the White House to regulators and the Fed:
- Double the CDFI Fund at Treasury consistently going forward, simplify and reduce costs in the process for more, smaller CDFIs to access it going forward, including a set-aside for CDFIs serving majority minority communities.
- Disburse emergency grants to capitalize CDFIs immediately through the CDFI Fund, as part of the emergency legislation passed in December.
- Create a federal Public Investment Authority/Domestic Development Finance Bank to fund large-scale domestic projects like infrastructure development and the just transition
- Change donor advised fund regulations so there’s a minimum annual 5% payout requirement, just like foundations have, and they can make program-related investments
- Assess job quality, DEI, and other impact considerations as part of federal procurement to prioritize contracts with companies that provide quality jobs and incorporate other impact considerations into their operations
- Make it easier for investors to invest with ESG, diversity, and job quality considerations by 1) rolling back the DOL ESG guidance issued in 2020 regarding ERISA, and 2) adopting ESG and job quality reporting requirements within the SEC to ensure investors in large, publicly traded companies get a view into those companies’ diversity, equity, inclusion, and job quality practices.
- Modernize and expand CRA to ensure CRA-motivated investments benefit Black and Brown communities (those that the policy was originally designed to serve), increase transparency, and ensure that fintech companies, insurers, and other non-bank financial institutions are subject to the regulation.
We also helped release “Big Ideas for Small Business,” a five-step plan outlining a path forward for America’s threatened small business sector. It includes ideas such as encouraging employee ownership as a means to strengthen small businesses and empower workers at the same time. We estimate that over 10 years, the actions laid out in the roadmap would generate a net new 1.5 million small businesses above pre-COVID levels and grow small businesses’ share of U.S. employment by 25% while contributing to a more competitive, dynamic and innovative economy.
My personal commitment for 2021 is to double down on our people — at PCV, small business owners like you that we work with, the workers you employ, and our amazing community of volunteer advisors. I will do everything I can to ensure a just recovery centering racial, environmental, and economic justice – both in our work at PCV, and those we reach. To realize the potential for truly transformational change in our leadership and economy that we’re on the precipice of this year, that is absolutely essential for meeting this moment. Now, more than ever, is the time for high road business practices across every sector of our economy.
How can you get involved to ensure a just recovery? Visit the links below:
- Partner with us as a company
- Fund and grow PCV’s work
- Volunteer with us as an individual
- Join us for our first listening session of the new year on January 20 to tell us about your hopes, worries, plans for the new year ahead.
President & CEO, Pacific Community Ventures