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President Biden proclaims May 1-7 as National Small Business Week

SBA highlights National Small Business Week celebration “Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship” with remarks from President Biden.

SBA, Isabel Guzman

SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman. (Photo Source)

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s 2022 National Small Business Week celebrations will officially commence with a three-day virtual summit and an awards ceremony for honorees. SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman will kick off the national event on Monday, May 2, addressing registered participants during the educational, training, and networking event. To end the celebration, President Joe Biden will deliver pre-recorded remarks congratulating our National Small Business Week award winners and acknowledging the contributions of America’s 32.5 million small businesses to our Nation’s historic economic comeback.

President Biden, in his proclamation declaring May 1-7 as National Small Business Week, stated, “For generations, small businesses across America have shaped and embodied our Nation’s entrepreneurial spirit and driven our economy forward. Today, more than 32 million small businesses employ almost half of America’s workforce and represent the heart and soul of countless communities. During National Small Business Week, we celebrate America’s small businesses and their enormous contributions to American life and prosperity.

“When I first took office, the pandemic had devastated America’s small business community. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses had closed, main streets were shuttered, and millions more Americans were out of work through no fault of their own. Even with the creativity and resilience of small business owners and workers, COVID-19 took an incalculable toll on so many lives and livelihoods. That is why I made it a top priority to provide substantial, immediate relief to our Nation’s small businesses, giving them the tools, resources, and support they needed to reopen, rehire, and rebuild.

“My American Rescue Plan and other emergency relief programs distributed hundreds of billions of dollars to millions of small businesses to keep the lights on and keep workers on the payroll. My Administration also removed historic barriers to level the playing field for businesses across rural and urban America, especially businesses owned by veterans, women, and people of color. These efforts have helped millions of small businesses not only weather the pandemic but thrive.

President Biden and SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman. (Photo source)

“My Administration is committed to unlocking new opportunities to help small businesses grow and compete. Through the American Rescue Plan, our State Small Business Credit Initiative provides States, territories, and Tribal governments with resources to establish loan and equity capital programs to support entrepreneurs. In addition, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has created unprecedented contracting opportunities for small businesses in every community. Already, more than 4,000 projects have been announced to upgrade America’s infrastructure, creating significant opportunities for small businesses to grow. The law is delivering affordable high-speed internet access to every community — urban, rural, suburban, and Tribal — so every small business can use digital technologies and gain new customers across the country and around the world. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes the Minority Business Development Agency within the United States Department of Commerce a permanent entity — seeded with a record amount of funding — so minority-owned businesses can receive tailored assistance for their unique challenges and access the capital they need to grow.

“I firmly believe that equal opportunity is the bedrock of our democracy. That is why my Administration is committed to using Federal procurement dollars to support firms owned by underrepresented people and to help small businesses build generational wealth. Last year, I announced a set of reforms to increase contracting opportunities for underserved businesses by up to 50 percent by 2025. We are also capitalizing on our historic investments in supply chain resilience and “Made in America” manufacturing so small businesses can innovate, compete, and build the products of tomorrow. To position small businesses for success in the long term, the United States Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot program is forging stronger partnerships with local organizations to get resources to underserved small businesses.

“Thanks to these initiatives and the resilience of the American people, America’s entrepreneurial spirit has never been stronger. New business applications grew by more than 30 percent over the course of the pandemic, with almost 5.4 million new applications in 2021 alone. More Americans than ever before — including more women and people of color — are following their dreams and starting new enterprises. My Administration will continue to support them, build upon this remarkable resurgence, and strengthen the foundation of our economy with America’s small businesses at the forefront.

You might be interested: Biden-Harris Administration expands SBA Pilot Program targeting access to capital for underserved entrepreneurs

“This National Small Business Week, let us renew our commitment to supporting our Nation’s small businesses. From local “mom and pop” shops to innovative start-ups, small businesses are pillars of our communities and the engine of our economy. By rebuilding our economy from the bottom up and middle out, we can maintain our global competitiveness and build a stronger Nation where everyone can succeed.

 

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The President’s proclamation closes with “NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 1 through May 7, 2022, as National Small Business Week. I call upon all Americans to recognize the contributions of small businesses to the American economy, continue supporting them, and honor the occasion with programs and activities that highlight these important businesses.”

This year’s National Small Business Week virtual conference will offer free educational webinars, free business advice, and an opportunity to network with fellow business owners.

Registration is required; individuals interested in the conference can register here.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov

Biden-Harris Administration expands SBA Pilot Program targeting access to capital for underserved entrepreneurs

Vice President Kamala Harris unveils improvements to SBA Community Advantage Pilot Program at White House Event with SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman.

On Wednesday, March 30, Vice President Kamala Harris and Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the voice for America’s 32.5 million small businesses in President Biden’s Cabinet, announced impactful reforms to the agency’s Community Advantage (CA) loan program, a key SBA tool for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Community Development Companies (CDCs), microlenders and other critical mission-based lending partners, that prioritizes equitable access to capital for low-income borrowers and those from underserved communities.

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. (Photo Source)

“America’s mission-driven lenders have been a critical partner to the SBA in getting much-needed financial relief to underserved businesses throughout the COVID pandemic. Scaling the SBA’s Community Advantage pilot program will help us build on that momentum, create a broader distribution network and better ensure the opportunities of our nation’s accelerating recovery are accessible to more entrepreneurs pursuing their American dreams of starting and growing a successful business,” said Administrator Guzman

“The Community Advantage pilot expansion and reforms reflect the central role that President Biden and Vice President Harris have given to building equity across this Administration and removing historic inequities and barriers that have limited economic growth for all. My thanks to Vice President Harris, a longtime champion for Community Development Financial Institutions and other mission-driven lenders, for supporting this important change and helping to improve access to capital for more American entrepreneurs.”

Among the reforms announced for the Community Advantage program, the SBA will: 

  • Extend the pilot program to September 30, 2024, providing more certainty for the Community Advantage program, which was set to end in September 2022.
  • Lift the four-year lender moratorium and enable the SBA to grow this important lender network, opening up a critical capital program to more mission-based lenders across the country.
  • Increase the maximum loan size, the new expanded number of lenders will be allowed to access the SBA’s 7(a) government-guaranteed loan program at lending levels up to $350,000, which represent an increase over the current levels of $250,000.
  • Remove the restrictions that can keep individuals with criminal backgrounds from accessing the Community Advantage program.
  • Simplify underwriting and collateral requirements for borrowers and lenders, including increasing the maximum unsecured loan size from $25,000 to $50,000, removing barriers that disproportionally impact underserved borrowers.
  • Introduce additional abilities for lenders to make revolvers and lines of credit, interest-only periods, and other loan modifications that meet borrowers where they are to best serve their capital needs.
  • Redefine packaging fee guidelines to better enable CDFIs, CDCs, and mission lenders participating in the Community Advantage program to scale and increase volume to underserved communities.

Filling Gaps by Connecting Underserved Small Businesses to Capital

Designed to meet the credit, management, and technical assistance needs of small businesses in underserved markets, the SBA’s Community Advantage pilot loan program was launched during the Obama-Biden Administration and originally set to expire in September 2022. The program was intended to provide mission-oriented lenders, primarily nonprofit financial intermediaries focused on economic development, access to 7(a) loan guarantees previously for loans of only $250,000 or less. Community Advantage continues to be the best avenue to allow mission-driven lenders to access SBA 7(a) loans. The SBA’s goals for the Community Advantage program include:

  • Increasing access to credit for small businesses located in underserved areas;
  • Expanding points of access to the SBA 7(a) loan program by allowing participation of non-traditional, mission-oriented lenders; and 
  • Providing Management and Technical Assistance (M&TA) to small businesses, as needed.

You might be interested: SBA Women’s Business Ownership Assistant Administrator Natalie Madeira Cofield shares resources for women entrepreneurs to grow and thrive

Allies Praise Biden-Harris Administration Expansion of SBA’s Community Advantage Pilot Program 

Marla Bilonick, President and CEO, NALCAB of the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders: “The Community Advantage Pilot Program (CA) is a lifeline for Latino small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in underserved markets. Through nonprofit financial intermediaries that have deep knowledge of their communities, CA provides the tools and support needed to be successful. NALCAB has been closely engaged with the SBA on changes to the CA program that will help even more of our nation’s innovators start a business, grow and create new jobs. We applaud these reforms and urge swift adoption.”

Ron Busby Sr., President and CEO, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc: “The US Black Chambers is proud to support the changes to the Community Advantage program, understanding that the program plays a critical role in connecting Black businesses to capital in their communities. CDFIs ensure that Black firms can access capital from institutions that look like them, live in their communities, and understand their local economies. Underscoring that access to capital is the primary barrier for Black businesses to grow and scale, we applaud the SBA and the White House for working with stakeholders to ensure that programs like Community Advantage can continue to adapt to meet the needs of today’s economy.

Hilda Kennedy, Founder and President, AmPac Business Capital: “I have been involved on a number of committees, but I have never seen a regulatory body so committed to hearing the voices of the constituents with a timebound commitment to execute on what they heard.  I am utterly confident that these reforms in Community Advantage will have a game-changing impact on loans to underserved communities and specifically those communities that have had a 30-40% drop in SBA Lending – Black and Latino communities. The SBA Administrator came to Washington DC, not for pomp and circumstance, but to roll up her sleeves and work for small businesses, and she has delivered in just one year!”  

To learn more about Community Advantage and additional small business financial assistance programs, visit your local SBA office at www.sba.gov.

SBA Administrator announces plans to elevate the Office of Women’s Business Ownership

Earlier last week,  U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced that the SBA intends to elevate its Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) to directly report to the Office of the Administrator. The proposed change reflects the importance of women entrepreneurs held by the Biden-Harris Administration and SBA.

Established by Executive Order in 1979 and codified through the Women’s Small Business Act of 1988, OWBO’s mission has been to empower women entrepreneurs through advocacy, outreach, education, and support.

Under Administrator Guzman, the SBA has expanded the number of Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) to a record 140 locations nationwide. These WBCs offer a network of extensive on-the-ground resources that include free to low-cost counseling, training, business development technical assistance and are dedicated to assisting women entrepreneurs to start, grow, and expand their enterprises.

SBA, Isabella Casillas Guzman

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. (Photo Source)

“In 1972, there were a little over 400,000 women-owned businesses in the United States. Today, there are over 12 million proving that women entrepreneurs have become the fastest growing and one of the most impactful segments of the business community,” said Administrator Guzman in a press release. “While there has been historic progress in women’s entrepreneurship, significant disparities still persist, impacting women entrepreneurs’ access to resources and opportunity, especially in the face of the economic challenges posed by COVID. That is why I am proud to advance the mission of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership and reaffirm our commitment to America’s women-owned small businesses.”

This announcement comes after the release of the first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality commissioned by the White House outlining objectives and priorities for obtaining equity for women. 

“Women entrepreneurs are key to spurring innovation and supporting local economies and families across the country. That is why it’s so important that we continue to invest in women-owned businesses and give them the tools they need to succeed and grow. The elevation of this office sends a clear signal of this Administration’s commitment to ensure an equitable economic recovery, putting women at the forefront of our efforts to build back better for everyone. The White House Gender Policy Council looks forward to an ongoing strong partnership with the Office of Women’s Business Ownership in the months and years ahead,” said Jennifer Klein, Deputy Assistant to the President and Co-Chair and Executive Director of the WH Gender Policy Council.

Women represent the fastest-growing entrepreneurial segment in the country, with particularly high growth in entrepreneurship amongst multicultural women. Data from the SBA’s Office of Advocacy found that between 2014 and 2016, the number of employer firms owned by women grew six percent, twice the growth rate of employer firms owned by men. This exponential growth was mainly driven by an increase in employer businesses owned by minority women, which grew 14 percent in that time.

Photo created by tirachardz on Freepik.

COVID-19 dealt a severe blow to women-owned businesses which is why prioritizing recovery and addressing long standing inequities for women entrepreneurs is crucial to the survival and continued growth of these businesses. The elevation of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership will help ensure the continued success of the Women’s Business Center network. 

While it is evident that women entrepreneurs play a key role in our society and economy, they still remain underrepresented in many key factors, including access to capital, contracts, and connections. Led by OWBO, the SBA assists women-owned businesses in leveraging government resources – including recently announced opportunities through an equitable federal procurement strategy, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Build Back Better Act – to level the playing field. 

Currently, the OWBO is an organizational component of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development. The SBA emphasizes that the reorganization is still in the planning stages and likely will not be finalized until the close of fiscal year 2022.

To find Women’s Business Center locations and additional SBA resources in your area, visit www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance.

Biden-Harris Administration unveils plan to build black wealth and narrow racial divide 

Earlier this month, on the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Biden-Harris Administration unveiled their plan to build black wealth and narrow the racial wealth gap in the United States. 

A history of systemic racism in the United States has contributed to the large wealth gap that people of color currently face. Systemic racism, also referred to as structural or institutional racism, is defined as “a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity,” according to the Aspen Institute. Systemic racism is not something “a few people or institutions choose to practice.” It is ingrained in our social, economic, and political systems and has adapted over time. It identifies the parts of our history and culture that have historically privileged “whiteness” while subjecting people of color to unjust disadvantages. 

Historically, systemic racism has impacted the ability of Black Americans to secure afforable housing, education, health care, and employment due to unjust biases and discrimination. A study by Citigroup found that in the past 20 years alone systemic racism has cost the U.S. a whopping $16 trillion

The Biden-Harris Administration’s new plan will take measures to address the key issues impacting Black wealth in efforts to close the racial wealth gap and build back Black wealth. 

Adam Schultz, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Biden-Harris Administration to build back black wealth 

In a detailed press release, the Biden-Harris Administration outlined key areas their plan will tackle. The plan will: 

  • Take action to address racial discrimination in the housing market, including by launching a first-of-its-kind interagency effort to address inequity in home appraisals, and conducting rulemaking to aggressively combat housing discrimination.
  • Use the federal government’s purchasing power to grow federal contracting with small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent, translating to an additional $100 billion over five years, and helping more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

Attitudes and policies that undermine equal access are the root of the racial gaps plaguing U.S. society (Source: Citi Research).

Additionally, the Administration plans to create jobs and build wealth in communities of color through various initiatives that will help support small minority owned businesses including: 

  • A new $10 billion Community Revitalization Fund to support community-led civic infrastructure projects that create innovative shared amenities, spark new local economic activity, provide services, build community wealth, and strengthen social cohesion.
  • $31 billion in small business programs that will increase access to capital for small businesses and provide mentoring, networking, and other forms of technical assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged businesses seeking to access federal contracts and participate in federal research and development investments.
  • $15 billion for new grants and technical assistance to support the planning, removal, or retrofitting of existing transportation infrastructure that creates a barrier to community connectivity, including barriers to mobility, access, or economic development.
  • A new Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit to attract private investment in the development and rehabilitation of affordable homes for low- and moderate-income homebuyers and homeowners. 
  • $5 billion for the Unlocking Possibilities Program, an innovative new grant program that awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take steps to reduce needless barriers to producing affordable housing and expand housing choices for people with low or moderate incomes.

You might be interested: Black History Month: Steps toward dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. 

Investing in Black-Owned Small Businesses 

Access to capital and resources are common struggles many small business owners face, but the struggle is greater for Black small business owners who must go through the extra hurdles set in place by discriminatory racial biases. 

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Through two key measures the Biden-Harris Administration will work to address these disadvantages. 

Using the Government’s purchasing power to drive an additional $100 billion to Small Disadvantaged Business Owners: The federal government is the largest consumer of goods in the world, buying everything from software to elevator services to financial and asset management, Federal procurement is one of our most powerful tools to advance equity and build wealth in underserved communities. And yet, just roughly 10 percent of federal agencies’ total eligible contracting dollars typically go to small disadvantaged businesses (SDB), a category under federal law for which Black-owned, Latino-owned, and other minority-owned businesses are presumed to qualify. Increasing federal spending with these businesses will help more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams and help narrow racial wealth gaps. 

At its center is a new goal: increasing the share of contracts going to small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent by 2026—translating to an additional $100 billion to SDBs over the 5-year period. To achieve this goal, agencies will assess every available tool to lower barriers to entry and increase opportunities for small businesses and traditionally-underserved entrepreneurs to compete for federal contracts. The impact could be historic: all told, attainment of the new goal will represent the biggest increase in SDB contracting since data was first collected more than 30 years ago.

Invest $31 Billion to Scale Up Efforts to Support Minority-Owned Small Businesses: Too many small businesses owned by people of color struggle to access loans and federal programs that can help them grow and succeed.  President Biden has proposed a historic effort to tackle these persistent challenges and empower small business creation and expansion in communities of color. Specifically, the President’s American Jobs Plan will invest $30 billion in new Small Business Administration (SBA) initiatives that will reduce barriers to small business ownership and success.  These initiatives will increase access to capital by establishing a new direct loan program for the smallest businesses, developing new loan products to support small manufacturers and businesses that invest in clean energy, and launching a new Small Business Investment Corporation that will make early stage equity investments in small businesses with priority for those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The American Jobs Plan will also invest billions of dollars in SBA technical assistance programs that incubate and offer mentoring and technical assistance to 8(a) firms, reinforce the American subcontracting network to create pathways to prime contracting, encourage Fortune 500 firms to diversify their procurements, and bring more socially and economically disadvantaged businesses into federal research and development programs.  These investments will also include an innovative new $1 billion grant program through the Minority Business Development Agency that will help minority-owned manufacturers access private capital.

Through these efforts, Black-owned small businesses will have greater opportunities to realize their dream and goals. There is still much work to do before the longstanding effects of systemic racism are fully eradicated, but the plan unveiled by the Biden-Harris Administration is a first step in the right direction toward building back black wealth and narrowing the racial wealth gap and achieving equality in the United States.