Clean-tech to the rescue? The Census Bureau issued a report on the poor health of very small businesses in the nation from 2007 to 2009, with some eye-popping numbers for our not-so-golden state. California’s smallest businesses — that is those individuals who file as sole proprietors on their federal 1040s — got hammered in the first two years of the Great Recession, with as many as 80,000 ceasing operations and dropping off tax rolls. In fact, San Diego County suffered the second largest decline of any county in the nation, losing more than 2,800 small businesses in a one-year period — behind only New York City which posted the largest decline. Many of the disappearing businesses locally were tied to the implosion in residential real estate. By the way, Texas added more than 8,000 micro-businesses — many of them green — in the same time period … And just what are the Lone Star State’s secrets? Well the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce hopes to find out during a fact-finding trip to Austin Oct. 12-14. Participating members will take a look at that city’s best practices, so that they might adopt and adapt the practices here. Austin, for example, is one of the top five cities in the U.S. in the burgeoning clean-tech sector. The chamber wants to know the secrets since its home turf sits astride the region’s I-15 clean-tech corridor. For the Austin itinerary, browse on over to sdncc.com … Meanwhile, there’s hope in the future. The nonprofit Environment California Research & Policy Center says as many as 15,000 students are enrolled annually in clean-tech job training courses at local colleges and universities statewide … Veteran muckraking journalist Don Bauder reported recently that Michael Shames, who heads up the controversial local public watchdog group Utility Consumers’ Action Network, or UCAN, in San Diego has come under fire for receiving a bonus of 10 percent —based on UCAN intervenor fees — which makes up 44 percent of his $202,000 salary. Bauder writes that at least one critic has scolded Shames for calling himself a lawyer since he hasn’t been an active member of the California State Bar for years. (The state Public Utilities Commission rules he is an attorney.) The controversy comes at an awkward time for Shames and his board, since UCAN is considering a merger with another public utilities watchdog group based in San Francisco … Finally, this calendar item of note. Albert Yu-min Lin, a UC San Diego researcher, who is using noninvasive remote sensing technology to look for Genghis Khan’s lost tomb in Mongolia, is among the nominees to be honored at the 2011 Asian Heritage Awards Aug. 20 at Mission Bay’s Paradise Point Resort. Altogether, 66 individuals were nominated to receive 14 awards ranging from business to literature to the military, including Korean-American Rear Admiral Ron MacLaren, who is scheduled to receive honors for being a pioneer in diversity. For details, call the Alarus Agency at 619-235-4542. Till next week!
Tom York is contributing editor of the San Diego Business Journal. If you have interesting items, send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.