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Small Businesses the Key to a Strong Business Community
By: Stuart Waldman


As a business organization, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) is invested in how we and our partners can aid in the recovery and expansion of this region’s economy. But the true power to our economy comes from our small businesses.

Many people look to larger corporations to create new jobs, but a full one-third of our workforce is employed by a small business (1-99 employees).

California accounts for about 13% of all small businesses in the United States, with many of them located in the San Fernando Valley. This is why VICA has inducted so many small businesses into VICA’s San Fernando Valley Business Hall of Fame.

The San Fernando Valley Business Hall of Fame was created seven years ago to recognize significant contributions to the Valley community. Inductees include individuals, businesses and other community leaders that have been responsible for the continued success and economic vitality of the San Fernando Valley.

Take one of this year’s inductees, Bear Pit BBQ, which started in the 1940s, when original owner Ben Baier moved from Missouri and started a small barbecue shack in Newhall. He later moved the restaurant to Mission Hills, and thanks to a climate that supported expansion and growth, was able to add two more locations in the Valley.

Another inductee, Norman’s Rare Guitars, first opened in 1975 as a small niche guitar store. But Norman’s reputation spread and he found himself needing a larger space and inventory, making him the go-to guitar store for musicians all over the world.

New Horizons, a nonprofit that creates work opportunities for the developmentally disabled, is another example of an organization that given the chance and environment was able to grow. Thanks to the support of regional and state grants and funds, the organization relocated to a larger building and has greatly expanded the number of adults it serves and connects to work.

VICA’s other 2014 are larger businesses, but in the decades of being in the Valley have had the chance to grow in employees and space Our fourth honoree, Bobrick Washroom Equipment, now has business operations that extend into 85 markets worldwide, but it started as a small business in North Hollywood, where it remains headquartered today.

And Providence Health and Services planted its roots in the Valley more than 70 years ago in an effort to provide medical services to the poor. Now, it has grown to six medical centers in Southern California.

The inductees are a testament to the fact that thriving businesses and a robust workforce are the foundation of the Valley. The Hall of Fame event shows our public officials the importance of policies that retain and expand existing small businesses and draw more small businesses to plant their feet in the San Fernando Valley.

We invite you to join us on Thursday, June 12 for a reception, awards ceremony and dinner celebrating this year’s inductees and all of the small businesses that are the roots of this Valley’s business community. Visit to learn more about the Hall of Fame.