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Government needs to extend a hand up for small business owners

Government needs to extend a hand up for small business owners

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From shutdowns to supply chain problems, the last two years have been a roller coaster for small businesses here in Maryland and across America. It’s always been hard work running a small business, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges and created brand new ones that none of us had seen before.

Now, as we enter the third year of the pandemic, it’s critical that Congress, the White House, and policymakers across federal agencies take a hard look at today’s small business landscape and reexamine the ways that government – especially the Small Business Administration – supports the work of our country’s entrepreneurs and job creators.

The Small Business Administration was created by Congress in 1953 to help more Americans pursue their dream of starting a company and building a better life for themselves and their families. But it’s now been 22 years since Congress last reauthorized the SBA, meaning this critical federal agency and its programs have often struggled to keep pace with the ways small businesses have changed since the year 2000.

But there’s reason to hope that will soon change. Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices and the Bipartisan Policy Center released a new report highlighting the challenges facing small businesses today and the ways that Congress can make the federal government work better for small businesses.

“From Pandemic to Prosperity: Bipartisan Solutions to Support Today’s Small Businesses” offers a thorough examination of the modern small business landscape and a clear roadmap for policymakers to address four key challenges facing small business owners today – workforce, child care, access to capital, and procurement.

Washington did its part to support small business during the worst days of the pandemic. Congress established the Paycheck Protection Program that helped us keep folks on our payrolls, and the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan that provided accessible, borrower-friendly capital at a time we needed it most. But, as this report makes clear, there’s more that needs to be done.

That means that policymakers need to:

  • Fill gaps in the credit market for small businesses and ensure that capital meets the needs of small business owners without burdening us with onerous debt.
  • Enable greater access to workplace benefits, such as retirement and paid leave, at small businesses through enhancement of existing programs, creation of new incentives (such as tax credits), and changes to existing policies that make adoption easier and more compelling for small businesses.
  • Expand small business opportunities in federal procurement processes to help strengthen resilience and growth and also support local job creation.
  • And enhance and bolster policies and programs designed to help small business employers and employees with the high cost of child care.

As the owner of Studio 7 The Salon and Spa in Baltimore, I’ve seen many of these challenges firsthand. I’ve had to make hard decisions, weighing pros and cons, to balance a ledger and keep our doors open. I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and the work that other small business owners in Maryland have done, especially over the last two years.

But the truth is, we can do better.

If Washington provides much-needed support to small businesses and reauthorizes the SBA in a way that addresses the challenges small businesses face today, we can unleash a new era of prosperity for small businesses that creates good-paying jobs, grows our economy, and ensures that more folks in Maryland and across the United States can succeed.

Rosalind Holsey is the owner of The Studio 7 The Salon and Spa in Baltimore.


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