2019 Excellence in Business Awards in SF exemplify diversity and more

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's Herbst Theater hosted the 2019 Excellence in Business Awards to much fanfare and jubilance Monday night. The awards, put on by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, come at a much needed time.

For nearly three decades, the awards -- also known as the Ebbies -- recognize San Francisco businesses that exemplify diversity, inclusion, community and more. Categories include the Building San Francisco Award, the Sustainability Award, Small Business Award and Corporate Social Responsibility Award.

George Chen, owner of China Live, is the winner of the Small Business Award.

"When was the last time a Chinese restaurant got nominated! It's really an honor and it's really nice to be recognized by a very strong business community here and I'm very, very proud of the Chinatown community as well."

Hundreds of companies are nominated, like the Chase Center, women-run food incubator La Cocina-and against nonprofits like Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation.

"We are very different but I think the impact is the same, we want to make this a better city," says Linda Esposito of La Cocina.

This is a night though that is more than a celebration. It comes at a time when San Francisco businesses are closing at an astonishing rate.

Rafael Mandelmen, District 8 supervisor, says there are challenges with economic success.

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"There's some anxiety in San Francisco, frankly, in our business community... last year was the first year we had more restaurants closed than open. I will say it's much better to manage the challenges of economic success than to be in another city struggling with not enough economic activity."

Rising rents and oftentimes a lengthy permitting process are to blame for a whole host of businesses closing in the city this past year. So in addition to putting together a new small business agenda, the SF Chamber uses the Ebbies as a way to bolster business.

"Receiving the award or even being nominated comes with an entire advertising campaign that we do on behalf of the businesses to help them promote and drive business in their direction," says Jay Cheng, Public Policy Director of the SF Chamber of Commerce.

Not only is it a night for winners, such as Alaska Airlines for their diversity and inclusion...

"We're so excited because it's a testament to our community involvement -- we're dedicated to opening up pathways for the underprivileged in underserved communities to ensure their success," smiles Oriana Branon, director of community and public relations for Alaska Airlines in the Bay Area.

It's also a night of hopefully building better Bay Area business for years to come.

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