San Francisco Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom touted his business background and the business framework that he says has defined his time in public office, during a luncheon hosted by the Valley Industry & Commerce Association. Newsom, who at the age of 21 opened his first business -a small wine store in San Francisco- said the lessons from his experience continue to frame his vision of governance. “I come to politics from that perspective; I got into local government from the perspective as a business person, not as a big business manager but as an entrepreneur,” he said during the Sept. 1 event at The Beverly Garland Holiday Inn. One of the most important lessons was realizing quickly that human capital was the most important asset he needed to invest in as a small business owner. This focus, he said, was largely responsible for his future success, which led to owning a number of restaurants and a hotel, among other ventures. Two months ago Newsom opened his 15th enterprise. Overall, his businesses employ over 1,000 jobs, he said. As an elected official Newsom said he continues to apply those same business principles. “The biggest concern I have about the state’s fate and future relates to the issue of human capital; the lack of focus and investment on the one thing that defines the greatness of the state of California and that’s the people,” he said. Newsom noted that California is 16th in the nation when it comes to the number of people with a Bachelor’s degree or greater who are 25 or older. “We need more scientists, more technicians, more engineers more people educated in mathematics,” he said. The increasing cost of tuition at higher education institutions is further hurting the state and is also eliminating California’s ability to compete for the best talent from around the world, said Newsom, who pointed to the recent tuition increases of 32 percent and 30 percent at California State Universities and Community Colleges respectively. “So if you ask me what’s the number one issue, it’s to reverse that trend and to begin to substantively and aggressively address the issue of human capital, and that means addressing the issue of education, particularly the issue of higher education in the state.” Newsom was elected mayor of San Francisco in 2003, succeeding Willie Brown and becoming San Francisco’s youngest mayor in 100 years. He was re-elected in 2007. The 2010 California gubernatorial election will be held November 2, with the primary election on June 8.