Tara Lynn Gray. (305556)

Tara Lynn Gray is making it a priority to uplight Black-owned small businesses in Los Angeles. Gray, the new Director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) shared her priorities and vision during a virtual meeting with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Council on June 10.

“I hear a roar coming,” Gray said, explaining she believes California’s economic recovery is right around the corner. She told the audience that California has a bold plan, which is anchored by the largest small business relief program in the nation.

“Advocacy is the key to the beginning of lasting change,” said Gray, whose priorities include expanding small business grants to $4 billion; helping implement the largest state tax cut for small businesses in history; and giving millions in grants and tax credits to attract business to California.

But where do Black-owned businesses come into play?

That is an important issue for Gray, a Black woman, who most recently led the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, before being appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to lead CalOSBA in March.

“In that (previous) role, I was keenly focused on coalition building,” Gray shared.

“We know that one of the problems is access to capital and the state has programs to help.”

In LA County, 93 percent of businesses have less than 20 employees, officials said. Additionally, 55 percent of the businesses in LA County are owned by women or people of color.

Gray said small businesses employ nearly half of all employees statewide, so making sure that entrepreneurs and their employees thrive is a must.

“Amplifying the resources that are available is very important to the chamber,” said Maria Salinas, Chamber president & CEO.

Gray said she also realizes that businesses need more than capital. Sometimes they need help to bridge the digital divide to improve their online presence. Oftentimes, they also need help building revenue, with quality training and technical assistance across the board to help to do that.

Additionally, Gray said her office will be looking at new avenues to provide small businesses with credit opportunities, another vital resource small businesses need to be successful.

Information about local resources can be found at lachamber.com or business.ca.gov/catergory/calosba.