Jay King, CEO of California Black Chamber

Opinion: Special Interests Want to Profit Off the Backs of California’s Small Businesses

Jay King, President | Special to California Black Media Partners

The California Black Chamber of Commerce is the largest African American non-profit business organization in the state. Our primary mission is to empower Black-owned businesses to succeed.  

Our Chamber spends countless hours nurturing relationships with our members and advocating for sensible policy changes that help businesses, communities, and families thrive. This work is undermined when we encounter groups with no relationship to our members or our cities, posing as advocates for the business community for their own gains. One such group that has made its presence more widely known in California recently is the Digital Restaurant Association (DRA).

The DRA advertises itself as a nonprofit coalition of small businesses advocating for transparency between restaurants and the third-party apps they use for delivery. It appears, however, that the DRA is being used by the former CEO of Uber and current CEO of CloudKitchens, Travis Kalanick, to collect data and turn a profit. Using the DRA name, the group seeks to convince policymakers that they represent small businesses while pushing for legislation that ultimately benefits their bottom line. A piece published by the Financial Times provides further insight on the group’s tactics.  

Travis Kalanick and DRA have represented themselves as advocates for small businesses to relentlessly pursue legislation in various parts of the country that the Chamber believes would infringe upon consumer’s data privacy and weaken relationships between third-party platforms and small businesses.  

Now, the DRA has come to California announcing that State Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Malibu) has introduced a bill on their behalf, Senate Bill (SB) 1490. Senator Durazo has always fought hard for her constituents, small businesses, and communities of color. We encourage Durazo, and other California legislators, to dig deeper into the history of DRA, its membership, its lack of roots in the state and our communities, and its failed attempts in Florida and Georgia to learn more about their ultimate agenda.  

I have cautioned our members against establishing relationships with out-of-state groups that might not represent the best interests of small businesses, and now we caution our legislators.  Even if the proposed legislation is well-meaning and well-intentioned, it would be legitimizing a group that does not truly advocate for our brick-and-mortar businesses, and that lacks boots on the ground to understand community needs. Black-owned businesses are critical to our state’s economy, and many survive on the margins to keep their doors open. The last thing our membership needs is an out-of-state group coming in and imposing new laws that don’t serve their best interests.  

About the Author  

Jay King is the President of the California Black Chamber of Commerce.


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