Op-Ed: American entrepreneurial spirit, determination to highlight National Small Business Week
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed one important truth: the American entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. It underscores the resiliency of our nation and our communities in the face of our largest economic challenge to date. Small businesses are not only the engines of our economic progress, but they are also the heart and soul of our communities.
This year, during National Small Business Week from May 2-5, we will be celebrating our Main Street small businesses, our mom-and-pop stores, restaurants, shops, and small manufacturers who stayed the course during this difficult time for America.
Despite the determination of our nation’s small business owners and their employees, the pandemic hit them hard, especially in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Throughout the pandemic, we experienced emptying storefronts and goodbye signs in windows. We heard of store and restaurant owners we lost that we could not publicly mourn, the closed pizza parlor that your kids loved best, the hardware store that always had the tool you needed, the barber shop that sponsored the local Little League team — all closed. The pandemic exacted an incalculable toll not only on lives and livelihoods, but on far too many family legacies.
Yet today, the United States is currently experiencing its strongest economic growth in nearly 40 years. People’s willingness to take the vaccine has helped us reopen our businesses, our schools and get back to work. In fact, the United States is the only country in the world where the economy is stronger today than before the COVID pandemic. This fact is underscored by the increase in our small business base that grew by more than 5.4 million new entrepreneurs in 2021, a 30% increase over the previous year.
During National Small Business Week from May 1-7, we will formally celebrate this milestone – and the hardworking American small business owners across all industries that have contributed to the nation’s success and growth. The SBA will highlight the fact that small business owners are building a stronger America through entrepreneurship. Register for our free, week-long virtual summit and celebrate with us as we delivered more than $1.1 trillion in small business economic aid programs to keep workers employed and connected to their benefits.
A top priority for President Biden and the SBA under Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman is for our agency to chip away at historic barriers that have limited access to capital. In the past five years, only 44% of small firms have received funds from a bank. The picture is far worse on the investment side. As a result, we are working to ensure that our small businesses have the capital needed to grow and further strengthen our resiliency and self-reliance.
President Biden’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Law also includes a record investment in rebuilding America as well. This, coupled with his commitment to increase manufacturing here at home through his Made in America initiative, will create additional procurement opportunities for small businesses and keep us all safer.
I am excited about our stronger America, and our increasing base of small businesses that are meeting our local and national needs. Because of them, more Americans are working and we are less dependent on other nations — giving us a lot to celebrate this National Small Business Week.