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Op/ed: Oxnard business zone would be a boon for small businesses


By Steve Kinney on April 13, 2012

If you have ever owned a small business, you know that in addition to being CEO, you are also chief financial officer, invoice clerk, IT director, sales and marketing manager, floor-sweeper, chief legal counsel and the person who runs to the store when you run out of copy paper.

Now imagine how your brain circuits would overload if you received a notice from a local government agency that was written in legalese, and seemed to indicate you owed money. You can’t shut your business down while you try to decipher the letter, but you can’t ignore it either.

Relief comes in the form of the Oxnard Business Improvement Zone. The Oxnard City Council is being asked to consider the creation of OBIZ, which would be an advocate for all businesses in the city.

Most of the city’s businesses would pay less than $100 a year to fund OBIZ.  For a fee that amounts to a few cents per day, businesses would:

• Have an advocate to troubleshoot problems with city, county, state or federal government agencies.

• Receive free permit processing for a variety of permits.

• Get help finding new locations, financing, or employees for their business.

• Receive advice on securing financing for business expansion.

• Obtain relevant research and demographic reports.

• Have access to free advice on marketing and other business enhancement factors.

That is a lot of value for a small price, but it is what needs to be done in today’s business climate.

Some have characterized OBIZ as a last-ditch effort to save the Economic Development Corp. of Oxnard. In fact, OBIZ and EDCO are separate, but equally necessary entities. EDCO still has a lot of work to do. More than 1,100 acres of Oxnard are zoned for light industrial use, and EDCO would like to continue its success at helping attract businesses to the city.  And it’s true that EDCO would like to provide the staff for OBIZ as well, but that’s a separate decision to be made by the City Council.

Regardless of EDCO’s involvement, the time is right for OBIZ. There is more pressure on small business than ever – from competitors, from government regulation, from lenders who demand more paperwork than ever before. OBIZ can help to counter that pressure.

Adding OBIZ to Oxnard is like adding one more staff person to every business in the city, for less than the price of a cup of coffee a day.

• Steve Kinney is the president of EDCO and a leading proponent of OBIZ.