Many micro-businesses in California’s rural areas – including mountaineering tours, rafting companies, and climb schools – depend upon our state's beautiful natural resources. That's why we support conservation, and as the voice for micro-business in California, we thank the president for permanently protecting the Berryessa Snow Mountain region as a National Monument.
The Berryessa Snow Mountain region is a 100-mile stretch of federal public lands, including parts of Napa, Yolo, Solano, Lake, Mendocino, Glenn, and Colusa counties. Protecting this region not only preserves the area’s natural beauty and biodiversity, it enhances recreational opportunities in the region for generations to come. Visitation to the National Monument will benefit businesses that depend on the preservation of the region’s natural resources, and not just those in the outdoor recreation sector, but other micro-businesses as well, such as the farmer at the Saturday Market or the local diner providing services to visitors.
Additionally, retirees in search of an active outdoor lifestyle are also contributing to Western job growth in record numbers. The economic impact of migrating baby-boomers is so large that more than 500,000 seniors relocated to Western states in search of protected public lands between 2000 and 2010, creating nearly 300,000 jobs, and seniors-focused micro-businesses are capitalizing off the wave of baby-boomer retirement.
America’s public lands attract innovative and entrepreneurial companies and workers, who increasingly value quality of life factors such as access to outdoor recreation. Research shows that from 1970 to 2010, western non-metro counties with more than 30 percent of their land base in federal protected status increased jobs by 345 percent, whereas Western non-metro counties with no protected federal land increased jobs by 83 percent.
These migration trends underscore how our labor force is undergoing a shift towards independent work. Factors such as access to protected public lands will become important for attracting the self-employed and entrepreneurs, who are increasingly a backbone of the American economy. In fact, 85% of all businesses in the U.S. are micro- firms with five or fewer employees, started for $50,000 or less in initial capital. Micro Enterprises start small, but can grow quickly. These firms generate close to 25% of all jobs in our economy.
California and our members are leading this trend, with 4.2 million Californians employed in a micro-business in 2007, and we believe the protection of public lands will continue to draw talented entrepreneurs and the self-employed to California.
We applaud President Obama for his actions to proclaim 19 new monuments – including the incredible outdoor recreation resource of the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles, Point Arena-Stornetta on the breathtaking Mendocino County coast, and the historic Fort Ord in Monterey Bay (along with the new Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument)– which will draw visitors from around the globe, helping to support local economies.
For our communities, a new national monument is like being kissed by the sun from both sides, providing the double rewards of protection and prosperity. We thank the president for continuing his great work protecting our best places for the good of our economy by protecting Berryessa-Snow Mountain as a National Monument. The president is ensuring that this unparalleled stretch of public lands and waters, which so many current and future micro-businesses depend on, will flourish and help grow California and America’s economy in the 21st century.
Viek is CEO of the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), a non-profit with the mission of creating economic opportunity for all California entrepreneurs to build wealth and strong communities.