by Photo courtesy of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria via Twitter

new study found that Asian and Pacific Islander-owned businesses created 90,000 jobs and generated $5 billion this year in San Diego county’s local economy. 

The Asian Business Association of San Diego commissioned the 2021 study featured the Sales activity and revenue from over 7,000 API-owned businesses countywide highlighted the economic impact COVID-19 had this past year.

The survey used census data, survey responses and economic remodeling software to build an economic outlook, according to President & CEO, Asian Business Association of San Diego, Jason Paguio. 

“We believe this report stands alone in the nation in providing the most current and in-depth look at API businesses,” Paguio said. 

According to U.S. Census Data, San Diego’s  API-owned businesses comprised 13.2 percent of all businesses in the region, which is greater than the nationwide share of 10.2 percent. There are a total of 9,100 API-owned businesses in San Diego County, and approximately 24,692 self-employed Asian and Pacific Islander residents. 

In the City of San Diego, API-owned businesses are most highly concentrated in Kearny Mesa and suburban communities north of State Route 52. There are 117 neighborhoods that house API-owned businesses out of the 124 in the city.

The survey found a steady increase of the number of API businesses licenses since 2011, noting there was “no evidence of a sharp decline in entrepreneurship or new API business establishments in 2020 or 2021.”

The organization took a particular interest to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on API businesses. An 18-question business survey was issued in late September, which brought a total of 120 respondents. Local businesses were asked questions that pertained to COVID-19, along with those commonly found in business surveys. 

A negative effect induced by the pandemic was observed by 44 percent of the county's API business owners on their enterprises. The study cites this as a clear shift from similar responses from 26 percent of business owners overall on the state level and 23 percent on a national level.

“Many Asian and Pacific Islander business owners are years away from recovering financially from the pandemic and are still in need of greater business and financial assistance,” Paguio said. 

Studies have found the negative impact on API-owned businesses were further exacerbated by xenophobic fear and discriminatory treatment, misinformation and misperceptions about health and safety of establishments. The survey found more than one over ten business owners reported being racially harassed or discriminated against during the pandemic. API business owners also reported recruiting while managing rising business and labor costs to be an overwhelming challenge. 

Nearly 64 percent of respondents requested and/or received financial assistance for their business since March 2020. Though nearly 24 percent of respondents requested aid from banks or other financial institutions, about 3 percent received aid.

“We believe that this report will help inform the community and local decision makers on the work ahead to secure equity in our economy, and ensure every business in San Diego County is back on track,” Paguio said.

​​The study was supported by the San Diego & Imperial Small Business Development Center Network, T-Mobile and Booz Allen Hamilton, paints a picture of Asian and Pacific Islander, or API, businesses in the city of San Diego, National City and Chula Vista. 

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