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San Francisco: Small Businesses Encouraged

San Francisco Rewards Self-Invention

San Francisco prides itself on being original and many neighborhoods have resisted the influx of franchises and corporate giants. In 1999, the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor established the Small Business Commission (SBC) to respond to and advocate for the needs of small business and to encourage entrepreneurial enterprise. The Small Business Commission functions as the City's central point of information and referral for entrepreneurs and small businesses located in the City and County of San Francisco. By championing "business-friendly" policies, marketing the contributions of the small business sector, and developing appropriate assistance programs, the SBC provides a supportive hand-up to many new business endeavors.

Openly gay supervisor, Bevan Dufty, wants to push the City's small business programs one step farther in the LGBT community. He has joined forces with San Francisco's LGBT Center, the Golden Gate Business Association (San Francisco's Gay Chamber of Commerce) and Market Street's SBA Entrepreneur Center to urge the City to encourage more small business start ups, through small business education, training and a capital funding program.

Dufty is an archetypal example of San Francisco's political flavor. A career politician, Dufty started out on Capitol Hill 27 years ago as an intern for Representative Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), the first Black woman elected to Congress. He has worked with a variety of powerful political leaders in the interim, though he humorously describes his professional career as "moving down the political food chain." Today, he supervises San Francisco's 8th district, one of the highest in homosexual residential and business density; Twin Peaks, Castro, Noe Valley.

The truth is that Dufty, like many of San Francisco's LGBT leaders, is happiest when he rolls up his sleeves and goes to work in the trenches which, in this case are the neighborhoods, the community programs and the local small business sector. Achievement addicts like Dufty find ways to triumph in San Francisco easily, which is one of the reasons he prefers neighborhood politics to the [closeted] glamour of Capitol Hill.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom took the reins from two-term veteran Willie Brown as San Francisco's newest LGBT champion by proclaiming same-sex marriage sanctioned by the city and commencing to perform as many as 2000 gay weddings at City Hall in February of 2004. This gesture won him national notoriety and launched a new era in the Equal Rights campaign

In his mayoral victory speech when Newsom accredited the win to the support of the many diverse groups of San Francisco, at the mention of the LGBT community an enormous roar ellicited from the crowd and Newsom reached across the podium to shake Dufty's hand. That image created an indelible seal for the political partnership between the City with the Community for many onlookers in the television audience.