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Pandemic Besieged Small Businesses Struggle to Reopen Across All Major Metros in California, But Vaccine Rollout Brightens Outlook



Small Business Revenues Scorched, Leisure and Hospitality Businesses Hit Hardest; Job Recovery Underway In Urban Centers

The number of ‘open’ small businesses in five of California’s largest metropolitan areas remains far below pre-pandemic levels – and has declined precipitously just since the surge in new COVID-19 cases hit the nation in late 2020, according to a new analysis released today by Beacon Economics.

As of early February, San Francisco has fared the worst with a 50.5% decline in the number of small businesses that are open and operating in the region compared to one year ago. Los Angeles has fared best with 34% fewer open small businesses, followed by San Diego (36.7%), the East Bay (37.2%), and the South Bay (40.3%). With the exception of Los Angeles, all metro regions performed worse than the state or nation as a whole where open small businesses have declined 35.4% and 34.2%, respectively.

In each region, steep drops in the number of open small businesses have occurred just since November when strict, health-mandated closures and restrictions were once again implemented following the largest surge in new COVID cases in the state to date. 

“These latest findings underscore just how badly small businesses, and their ability to operate, have been curtailed by the pandemic and the ongoing restrictions on activity,”  said Taner Osman, Research Manager at Beacon Economics. “However, with several effective vaccines rolling out in earnest, and with new virus cases falling across the state and nation, the outlook for small business is much brighter for the coming year.” 

Osman notes that these data do not suggest that businesses that are not open have closed permanently, but the longer they remain closed, the greater the likelihood of that occurring. “How this ultimately plays out for individual businesses will depend on whether they have the resources to sustain themselves until things open up widely and permanently again,” said Osman. “The good news is that a sustained reopening is drawing closer and while we may not completely return to trend this year, the economy is on the path to full recovery, bringing small business with it.” 

Revenues at small businesses have also been hammered, in many cases falling by close to or more than three-quarters compared to pre-pandemic levels. Key small business findings by region include:

  • San Francisco Metro (SF and San Mateo Counties): Like elsewhere, San Francisco’s Leisure and Hospitality small businesses have suffered the most from pandemic-related restrictions. Regionally, there has been a 66.7% drop in the number of open small businesses in this industry compared to pre-COVID levels. Moreover, revenues at these businesses have taken a staggering 83.4% tumble. No other industry in San Francisco has come close to this level of revenue loss.
  • Los Angeles Metro (Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale MD): While the data is brighter than in San Francisco, the number of open Leisure and Hospitality small businesses in Los Angeles has plummeted roughly 50% compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is approximately the same as in California as a whole. The loss of revenue at small Leisure and Hospitality businesses in Los Angeles stands at 68%, not as severe as the losses in San Francisco but still highly indicative of the harsh circumstances facing this industry.
  • San Diego Metro (San Diego County): San Diego’s Leisure and Hospitality small businesses also stand out as the most severely affected by the pandemic. The number of open small businesses in this beleaguered industry has fallen 47.7% compared to pre-COVID levels. This is a better outcome than in the state or nation as a whole, reflecting the relative strength of the region’s economy at the outset of the crisis. Although acute, at 66.2%, there has also been less revenue loss among San Diego’s Leisure and Hospitality businesses than in any other metro.
  • South Bay (Santa Clara and San Benito Counties): Unlike every other metro, in the South Bay, small businesses in the Transportation sector have fared the worst with 47.7% fewer open compared to pre-pandemic levels. Leisure and Hospitality small businesses are not far behind, however, with 45.8% fewer open. Revenues among the latter have also been hit the hardest, by far. As of February 2021, Leisure and Hospitality small businesses in the South Bay have suffered a 72.7% drop in revenue. 
  • East Bay (Alameda and Contra Costa Counties): In the East Bay, Leisure and Hospitality small businesses have experienced the most severe impacts with a 59.4% drop in the number of open businesses compared to pre-pandemic levels. Only San Francisco has experienced a steeper decline. Accordingly, revenues have fallen 72% at East Bay small businesses in this industry. No other sector in the region comes close to this level of revenue loss.

The new analysis also finds that employment gains are occurring across all the state’s major metros, but each still has significantly fewer jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels – ranging from 7.3% fewer jobs in the South Bay to 10.4% fewer jobs in San Francisco. Unemployment has continued to fall across all metro areas of the state. 

View the full Regional Outlooks for the East Bay, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and the South Bay here:

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.


Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce Welcomes Hawaii Chamber as Honorary Global Member



Empowering Future Generations: IERCC and Chamber of Commerce Hawaii Forge Partnership for Youth Development

In a landmark meeting that signifies the growing collaboration between regional chambers of commerce, the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce (IERCC) proudly welcomed the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii as an Honorary Global Member. This momentous occasion was marked by a ceremonial presentation led by Eddy Sumar, MBA, CCE, CICE, a distinguished member and Chair of the Education and Youth Skills Development Liaison at IERCC.

Eddy Sumar, renowned for his passionate advocacy for youth education and skill development, met with Sherry Menor-McNamara, CCE, President & CEO, and Tyler Hunt, Associate Vice President of Membership Services, of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. The meeting was not just a formal presentation but also an opportunity to share the innovative approaches IERCC is employing to champion youth development.

In a unique and inspiring gesture, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii representatives were introduced to IERCC’s youth initiatives through a trilogy of educational books authored by Eddy Sumar himself. These books – “A Treasure Hunt With OTIS,” “The Hidden Dreams,” and “The Cutting Edge” – are a testament to Sumar’s dedication to empowering the youth. Each book addresses critical areas of youth development:

  • “A Treasure Hunt With OTIS” provides wisdom to guide young lives.
  • “The Hidden Dreams” unlocks the potential of identifying and pursuing youthful aspirations.
  • “The Cutting Edge” offers vital insights into understanding credit and financial literacy.

Edward Ornelas, Jr., President & CEO of the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, expressed his enthusiasm for this new partnership, stating, “This collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii represents a significant step in our ongoing commitment to foster the leaders of tomorrow. By combining our resources and expertise, we can more effectively prepare our youth for the dynamic world they will inherit. Our shared vision for youth development and education is the cornerstone of this partnership.”

The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii expressed its enthusiasm for the collaboration, recognizing the value of the resources provided by IERCC. This partnership is a significant step towards a shared goal of fostering a brighter future for youth through education, skill development, and empowerment.

The Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce is enthusiastically developing plans to launch a summer internship program exclusively for students from the Inland Empire, offering them the opportunity to travel to Hawaii for this enriching experience. This initiative, which stems from the IERCC’s recent collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, is focused on providing Inland Empire students with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the diverse business and cultural environment of Hawaii. The program aims to equip these students with invaluable hands-on experience in various industries, enhancing their skills and broadening their perspectives. This visionary approach underscores the IERCC’s dedication to fostering the professional and personal growth of its youth, preparing them for successful careers in an increasingly interconnected world.

The IERCC is committed to continuing these collaborative efforts and looks forward to a fruitful and impactful partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, collectively striving to nurture the leaders of tomorrow.

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Corona Factory Files Landmark Trade Secret Lawsuit in New Hampshire Federal Court



Leading Private Label Company Alleges Massive Data Breach by SGS North America, Inc., Threatening Millions in Investment and Profits

Amid a surge of corporate theft nationwide, U.S. Continental Marketing, Inc. has initiated trade secret litigation against SGS North America, Inc. alleging misappropriation of proprietary and confidential chemical formulations that may cost U.S. Continental millions of dollars.

The largest private label leather and fabric care company in the world, U.S. Continental operates out of a 100,000 square foot factory in Corona, California, and partners with popular footwear, fashion, and furniture brands such as Birkenstock, Timberland, and Michael Kors to develop a range of products. The company provides commercial packaging solutions as well.

In its complaint filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, U.S. Continental alleges that earlier this year, it spent millions to develop five unique and secret chemical formulations for an unnamed customer for use on branded textiles. Those formulas were sent to SGS North America for independent testing.  David Williams, U.S. Continental’s President, explains, “Leading up to its testing, we made very clear to SGS that the confidentiality of any and all information about our formulations was critical. Third parties, and even our customers, could not be privy to our proprietary data and SGS knew that.”

Williams added, “To put a finer point on the sensitivity of the formulations in question, we negotiated an ironclad NDA with SGS, which it signed, promising not to disclose confidential information related to our formulations to anyone without written approval.”

U.S. Continental’s complaint alleges that despite its assurances, SGS twice sent detailed, unredacted testing reports directly to the customer in August, revealing specifics about the chemical formulations SGS promised to keep under wraps.

According to Williams, “By virtue of SGS’s indiscretion, which one of its Vice Presidents cavalierly claimed was a ‘mistake,’ our customer was sent all the information it needed to manufacture essential chemical formulations on its own. That puts at risk the $2 million we invested in R&D, along with another $20 million or so in profits from our manufacturing agreement with the customer. It only gets worse from there if SGS discloses our proprietary information—which it refuses to return—to any others.”

Jeffrey Farrow, a partner at Michelman & Robinson, LLP, which represents U.S. Continental along with local counsel in New Hampshire, says, “It’s beyond crucial that trade secrets, like my client’s chemical formulations, be carefully safeguarded. By failing to do so, SGS breached its NDA—a breach that continues given that the data at issue has yet to be returned despite multiple requests from U.S. Continental. This is simply unacceptable and through this lawsuit, we want SGS to know that its unlawful disclosure of trade secrets, and unlawful retention of them, won’t go unchecked.”

The lawsuit is currently pending and U.S. Continental is awaiting a response from SGS.

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Business Partners with Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce to Launch California Pavilion



In a landmark initiative,, a global leader in e-commerce, has announced a strategic partnership with the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce (IERCC) to bolster business opportunities for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in California. This historic collaboration is set to unveil the California Pavilion on, a pioneering platform promoting the “Made in California” brand to a global audience.

Join us for a special event where Mattia Miglio, Director of North America Business Development at, will introduce the California Pavilion alongside representatives from the IERCC. This digital hub is the first of its kind, designed to connect California’s SMEs with international buyers, importers, and distributors, marking a significant milestone in global business expansion.

This initiative sees the convergence of several key trade associations including the California Trade Alliance, California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Valley Industry & Commerce Association, all coming together to transform the SME landscape in California.

As part of the California Pavilion, members will receive an exclusive membership package offering numerous benefits designed to elevate businesses to new heights. This initiative not only supports business growth but also aligns with Alibaba’s vision of empowering SMEs in the global market.

The Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce stands as a pivotal partner in this venture. Known for its innovative approaches and customized support for businesses, the IERCC plays a crucial role in guiding enterprises in the Inland Empire, from startups to established companies.

“We are thrilled to partner with in this groundbreaking initiative. The California Pavilion is more than just a digital platform; it’s a beacon of opportunity for small and medium-sized enterprises across California. This collaboration is a testament to our commitment to empowering local businesses, giving them the tools and exposure they need to thrive in the global marketplace. We believe that through this partnership, we can elevate the ‘Made in California’ brand to new heights and open doors for unprecedented growth and success for our members”, stated Edward Ornelas, Jr., President & CEO of the IE Chamber.

We invite businesses to explore the advantages of joining the California Pavilion. Learn how this platform can revolutionize your business prospects and connect you with the global market.

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