Business, Free News Articles, General Editorial, Restaurant, Hotel and Hospitality

CEO/President of the California Black Chamber of Commerce, Jay King, Liaisons Critical Support for Small Business Landmark, Hawkins House of Burgers

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Not many small Black businesses can boast five generations of family operation. But more importantly, Hawkins House of Burgers, ( ) established in 1939, has maintained decades of community service to its surrounding neighborhood, Watts, CA. So, when current restaurateur Cynthia Hawkins found herself on the other end of a Caltrans state issued decree requiring the removal of part of their building, so a 500 square foot patch of land beneath it could be appraised and sold at public auction, her terror was palatable.

Having barely survived operations during Covid, to now being confronted with this challenge, was like the onslaught of facing another pandemic all over again. Fortunately for the Hawkins family business, former Compton resident A.K. King, got wind of the dilemma via social media and reached out to Jay King, the CEO/President of the California Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC)(

As the Chamber's CEO and president, King also sits on the Caltrans Small Business Council as the Chairman of the African American DBE Participation Committee for the California Department of Transportation. Staying true to the advocacy mission of the CBCC, King was able to reach out directly to Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. The pending order to demolish the Hawkins' building has been halted and everyone is working on various resolutions concerning the matter. A petition ( and GoFundMe ( has been set up to support the 82 year old community institution.

"Because Cynthia Hawkins is a small Black business owner, this issue could have been viewed as racially discriminatory, when in fact it was not. In fact, small businesses across the state and the nation even, face matters that are more about miscommunication and bureaucracy then perhaps race and gender. Many small businesses understandably operate in a bubble implementing their day-to-day survival so the California Black Chamber of Commerce, like most business chambers of commerce, are many times underutilized resources. We are here to provide service and support to our constituents and the Hawkins Burgers' situation provides an exemplary case study of how winning resolutions can be accessible for all," explains Jay King, CEO/President of the CBCC.

"So many people came out and promised support and help," cites Cynthia Hawkins, the youngest of 14 children, who runs the restaurant with help from her two daughters and three grandchildren. "But it was Jay King who made things happen and made them happen quickly! As a small business operator, I never realized I had access to resources like Jay King and the Chamber. I am deeply grateful and just humbled quite honestly. The matter is not fully remedied yet, but King's support is like an answered prayer and a miracle for my family."

"Caltrans is not the bad guy here. In fact, there are no bad guys. Caltrans has a small business council, so what we witnessed was the council at work. As a member and chairman of their ad hoc committee, I was able to directly reach out to CalTrans and they responded immediately and halted the declaration for demolition. The system works when organizations and agencies in place do their job. In this case the organization was the CBCC and it did its job as a resource center and liaison and we will continue to find a real resolution to the matter, because it's what we are in place to do," notes King.

The Hawkins House of Burgers was originally a malt shop back in the early 1940's. The business was one of many family-owned enterprises over the past decades, before eventually becoming a full throttle restaurant business in 1984. The family's motto has always been "Take care of your community and they will ALWAYS take care of you," and it is this tradition that has lasted over eight decades. Cynthia Hawkins has lovingly continued with service that includes feeding the homeless; supporting local families with food and funds; offering scholarships to neighborhood kids; providing food to grieving families when tragedy occurs, particularly to those effected by gun violence; and notably offering jobs and training to the community residents. The Hawkins House of Burgers even offers discounts to Caltrans workers!

As the largest African American non-profit business organization, representing thousands of small and emerging businesses, affiliates and chambers of commerce throughout California, the CBCC is extremely concerned about the aftermath of Covid-19 which has immobilized and shut down businesses around the entire world. California is a large and crucial market. The California Black Chamber of Commerce has over 4,200 registered small businesses throughout the state. A large percentage of these businesses consist of sole proprietors who rely on their businesses' income to survive. COVID-19 has had an unforgivable impact on this already marginalized and fragile, small business community. From the mom-and-pop eateries, barbershops and corner stores, to business professionals, the impact of this pandemic is projected to decimate this entire workforce.

The California Black Chamber of Commerce is committed to helping small businesses survive through these uncertain times. Contact the California Black Chamber of Commerce at, via email at or call at 916-467-8878.

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Alliances and Partnerships, Business, Construction and Building, Free News Articles

California Black Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Minority Contractors / Northern California Chapter Partner to Build Advocacy for M/WBE Construction Trades

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The new year is off to an industrious start with Jay King, CEO and President of the California Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC), announcing a statewide partnership with the National Association of Minority Contractors, Northern California (NAMCNC), under the direction of its Northern California Chapter President, Pete Varma. The two organizations intend to spearhead a plan to direct support, education and contracting opportunities to Minority/Women Business Enterprises construction trades throughout California.

Together both CBCC and NAMCNC will act as catalysts, building relationships between corporations seeking subcontracting opportunities and underrepresented small businesses. The CBCC is the largest African American non-profit business organization, representing hundreds of businesses, affiliates and Chambers of Commerce in California while the NAMC is the oldest minority construction trade association in the United States.

The construction industry workforce in the United States is made up of over 25 million Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) employees. The representation of BIPOC in critical roles has never been more crucial. While there are some corporations that are actively promoting inclusion and diversity in the awarding of work contracts, many are not, due to the inability to properly target these candidates. Both King and Varma hope to mitigate this disproportioned workforce by stimulating a productive environment of inclusive hiring-tactics, targeted training programs, and by forming partnerships with owners, developers and prime contractors.

"This last year has been a tumultuous one for the building and construction trades. Within this key industry group, no one has felt the crippling effects of the pandemic more than minorities, women, the disabled veteran-owned and especially the Black-owned construction trades," expressed Pete Varma, NAMCNC President. "As a result, this segment has faced additional roadblocks when it comes to talent acquisition, strategic partnerships and the opportunity to effectively scale their construction business."

"Recognizing this, NAMCNC has developed a Pre-Apprentice Construction Labor-Ready program. NAMCNC is filling the gap of labor shortage by educating and training young men and women from underserved communities, foster youth, high schools/ adult schools and others. Coupled with our Contractor Readiness program, which includes financing, bonding, and growth strategy, we are priming our members for success. NAMCNC is enthusiastic about our constituents and works towards creating a more representative and equitable workforce. Our alliance with the CBCC positions us to be even more of service," cites Varma.

NAMC is made of more than 50 Hall of Fame legacy contractors and builders, with a combined annual project capacity of over a billion dollars nationally. As a leading voice for minority trade workers, NAMC also provides assistance/guidance to undocumented workers in the construction industry. Corporations, owners, developers, city, county and federal agencies all must change their policies to ensure the growth and opportunity for the under-represented contractor workforce. CBCC and NAMCNC are focused on influencing the legislation of each local municipality, so that they are more encouraging and focused on minorities, disabled veterans and women-owned businesses, all while, improving the culture of the construction industry they effect.

"Our economy is being rebuilt after a year of unrelenting devastation, from the pandemic and the many protests that have taken place throughout the Trump Presidency. But we don't want to focus on the divide, we want to build the bridge of coming together," cites CBCC CEO and President, Jay King. "With 95% of our (African American) businesses existing as one employee, financial literacy is the chamber's foundational mission alongside of ensuring that our small and micro business owners are included in the rebuilding process of our communities and economies."

"Pete and I will mobilize all key opportunities to represent on behalf of these entities, to ensure they are not overlooked and partner them with other sole proprietors from all of the other disadvantaged groups who have similar issues, so that we can create a culture of allies, not adversaries, and comrades instead of competitors," King continues. "This we believe will be the beginning of a conversation that should be had across America in every business sector in the country. We want to be inclusive of all Americans so we can make 'America Great for Once.'"

Pete Varma serves as President of National Association of Minority Contractors Northern California Chapter, Vice President of Nokatu Construction (an America Indian General Contractor firm) and President of Intraline, Inc. Varma serves on Caltrans Statewide Small Business Council, Standing Committee, emphasis: Small Business (SB), the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBE) and Chair for Caltrans Statewide Small Business Council-Construction Committee and member of African American DBE Participation Committee for the California Department of Transportation. He also serves and advocates on behalf of Minority, Women and Disabled Construction Trades to the California High Speed Rail and to the BART Small Business Advisory Council. Varma's development teams are made up of local talent that utilize community-based resources. Varma has devoted over 30 years to construction management services, allowing all motivated members of each community an opportunity to affect its growth.

Jay King was elected president of the California Black Chamber of Commerce in June of 2019, working tirelessly as an advocate for African American small business owners. His community involvement includes sitting on the Cal Trans Small Business Council, Chairman of the African American DBE, Participation Committee for the California Department of Transportation, as well as holding seats on the Small Business Council for the Department of General Services (DGS) and the California High Speed Rail project. Other organizations include Commissioner on the Sacramento Police Commission, organizer of the North Sacramento Leadership Council, and founder and spokesperson for the Greater Sacramento Financial Literacy Group.

Both Jay King and Pete Varma are encouraging corporations and contractors alike to reach out to them for additional information. Contact the California Black Chamber of Commerce ( ) via email at or at 916-467-8878. Contact the National Association of Minority Contractors, Northern California Chapter ( ) at or at (877) 791-1630.

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