Economic Development Coordinator, County of Humboldt
I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for small business owners. I know the ups and the downs of trying to run a business because my husband and I lived it. It was almost by accident. I offhandedly offered to help a gallery in Oakland that was showcasing my husband’s art. We ended up taking ownership of the gallery for two years. We didn’t know what we were doing, and didn’t have a ton of support or mentorship. As often happens in urban areas, there was an onset of gentrification and the rent of our gallery-space tripled, so we lost the business.
That was when we decided to move to Humboldt, and I found a job at the Small Business Development Center. People would come into the office feeling anxious or confused about leasing and contracts, and it was so gratifying to help others through the often very stressful process of business ownership.
I was still working at the SBDC when Covid hit. Being such a spread out, rural community, Humboldt was under some pressure to get creative about how we could support one another through such a drastic change in our economy. I thought about when my husband and I lost our gallery, how isolating it felt, because there wasn’t that sense of a shared, community loss. While Covid is/was obviously traumatic on a global scale, I think the fact that we were sharing this enormous amount of change as a community allowed us to see the impact of small businesses in a profound way.
Transitioning from the SBDC into my role in the County Division of Economic Development, I am able to see up close the role of small businesses in our community, their impact and interconnectivity to the programs we support. I continue to be inspired by Humboldt’s resilience and our potential to collaborate as a community.