Small local contractors getting a big boost from the City of San Diego

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

Port Pavilion Construction
Workers at the Port Pavilion construction project. (Photo Credit: Port of San Diego)

The City of San Diego is leveling the playing field. Small, local businesses are busier these days, thanks to more construction projects being thrown their way. This is a new priority for San Diego leaders as they continue to be more aggressive in their efforts to expand opportunities for local contractors.

San Diego is doing its part to pump life into the local construction sector. According to the mayor’s office, nearly a quarter of all city construction contracts went to small, local businesses last fiscal year.

“We’ve made it a top priority and we’re seeing the results,” said Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Small businesses play a major role in the California economy. In fact, businesses with fewer than 100 employees comprise 97 percent of all businesses in our state, and they are responsible for employing more than 37 percent of all of our workers.

According to the mayor, in 2012 about 24 percent of the money for capital improvement construction projects like water main replacements to building repairs went to companies that were certified as small and local businesses. In 2008, that number was three percent.

San Diego leaders understand thriving small businesses leads to a thriving city and region. It has a number of initiatives to that end, including the city’s Small Local Business Program. Created in 2010, it established incentives for large contractors to hire city-certified small companies as sub-contractors. 

Here’s one more: only small and emerging local businesses are now allowed to bid on construction contracts below $500,000.

Unlike many large national and international contractors, small companies are more likely to use almost exclusively local labor. “When these small companies do well, it helps the entire San Diego economy,” said the mayor.

“I commend Mayor Sanders for his ongoing commitment to neighborhood commercial enterprise zones and the thousands of San Diego small businesses that are the driving force of our local economy,” said City council president Tony Young, who has long pushed for more support and opportunities for local companies.

“I’m particularly proud of the work we’ve done together on this city’s first Multiple Award Construction Contract for approximately $100 million in upcoming Capital Improvement Projects that require prime contractor companies to meet very specific goals that give our small and emerging local businesses as well as disabled veteran even more job opportunities,” said Young.

The California Economic Summit shares San Diego’s support of innovation for small businesses so they can grow and prosper. Their support to this industry sector will help California remain globally competitive. Keep tabs on our progress on this issue and the others on the Progress Tracker site.



Cheryl Getuiza

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