Governor Gavin Newsom expressed strong support for the state small businesses that are greatly suffering during the pandemic but when he had the chance to show that support to produce needed masks, he turned not to small businesses in California but a large conglomerate overseas.

The governor said, “the extreme curtailment of consumer spending resulting from public health directives to isolate at home is placing a disproportionate burden on small businesses.” He was right to be concerned. Small businesses employ over 95% of the state’s workforce.

But, did he take the opportunity to lessen the burden he spoke of as he worked to fulfill the health care needs of California with his $1.4 billion discretionary emergency spending for the virus pandemic?

Did he seek out California companies before awarding a nearly $1 billion contract to BYD for a 200 million per month supply of face masks? BYD is a Chinese electric battery and vehicle company, with a subsidiary making buses in Lancaster.  Was any call put out to find companies in the state who could quickly reopen their factories and work areas to convert to making face masks? How many companies, and non-profit organizations are already producing face masks and shields?

A quick search found Maker Nexus and Masks for Docs, just two California companies that are making masks—but they are seeking donations to continue their work. The internet and media outlets all over the state have countless stories of many diverse companies showing the creativity, adaptability, and entrepreneur spirit needed to identify and fulfill a need. That billion dollars sent to BYD would have gone a long way to help buy more equipment, supplies and paid thousands of people here in California.

Small businesses in California, more than ever, could use some help as they work to suppress the virus and begin to get the health of the economy moving again. The legislature that basically gave the Governor $1.4 billion to spend any way he sees appropriate, are now questioning how he spent that money. So is the small business workforce. Actions over words speak very loudly.