Main Street America has weathered the worst of three threats: the COVID-19 pandemic, labor shortages, and rapid inflation. Despite years of hardship for micro businesses (those with five or fewer employees) across the country, legislators are set to make the move in 2023 in the face of massive layoffs from their first major employers. We are called upon to implement policies to enhance the resilience, growth and entrepreneurial opportunities of micro-enterprises. quarter of the year.
2023 marks the beginning of a new parliament, new leaders, and new initiatives to support the small business and microbusiness ecosystem. But the 118th Congress is still heavily divided between a red House and a blue Senate, and the need for bipartisan solutions to support entrepreneurship has never been more important.
To stay on the path of economic resilience and growth, America’s smallest businesses need continued bipartisan support from Congress in 2023. The economic power of microbusiness should not be ignored. According to a study by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (of which I am chairman), microbusinesses make up 92% of all businesses in the United States, creating 41.3 million jobs and generating an economic impact of over $5 trillion. I’m here.
Congress and the Biden administration have successfully put Main Street at the center of COVID-19 relief efforts, but microbusinesses continue to face challenges that will make them difficult to operate in the years to come. These barriers include securing the right size capital at low cost, receiving reliable guidance (technical assistance) from culturally competent service providers, and the widening digital divide.
To ensure that microbusinesses get the support they need, this new Congress faces an opportunity to work together to address long-standing issues that have hindered entrepreneurial growth. At the 118th Congress, the AEO is calling for a significant update to the Small Business Administration (SBA) program. Some of them have remained unlicensed and underfunded for over 30 years. SBA is not alone in needing capacity increases and program updates. To improve service delivery, educate and raise entrepreneurship and awareness, and reduce the administrative burden on service providers, this Congress must redouble its commitment to making the American Dream more accessible than ever. I have. Congress can do this by holding institutions accountable and investing in critical programs that support our work, such as the SBA, Treasury, and Commerce.
For Main Street America to play a key role in fostering vibrant communities over the next two years, Congress must work together to create long-term, meaningful solutions for small businesses. Below is an overview of these solutions.
- Congress must work to codify Community Advantage loan program, providing low-cost capital to entrepreneurs in underserved regions. The Community Advantage program is the only bridge between startup funding and a distant dream for many entrepreneurs, so permanence is desperately needed.
- Congress must prioritize reentrant entrepreneur programs Increase financial opportunities for individuals with a criminal record or criminal justice system history across federal agencies. AEO believes in a second chance and believes access to entrepreneurship can provide a pathway to reduced recidivism, increased economic growth and a more stable community for individuals with non-violent criminal records. increase.
- The approver must fund the Minority Business Development Authority. Congress approved $110 million for the MBDA in 2021, making it permanent for the first time since the Richard Nixon administration. However, the owner was unable to provide sufficient funds to the authorities. If Congress wants to help minority businesses thrive and create jobs, MBDA needs to receive adequate funding.
- Congress should strive to provide entrepreneurs with the technology they need to succeed. Technology no longer enables business growth, but it is adjacent to it. This investment requires Congress to work with tech leaders to invest more in entrepreneurs. Microbusinesses face digital inequalities in accessing the tools they need to run a thriving modern business.
- Congress must learn to prioritize cultural competence in economic development planning. Funding state programs alone does not reach entrepreneurs through economic development programs. Recent AEO research suggests that the Black community in particular faces a trust gap that impedes their ability to benefit from entrepreneurship and community development programs. To mend the broken trust between underserved communities and federal programs, Congress will seek to promote culture by ensuring that local mission-based organizations are at the heart of development programs. priority should be given to physical ability.
Legislation in a divided parliament is never easy, but small businesses and entrepreneurship are one of the few issues that can build bridges between political parties. Congress must ensure that any approach to serving America not only takes into account its smallest businesses, but puts them at the center of the legislative agenda. The 118th Congress must find common ground. American microbusiness can fill that gap.
Connie E. Evans is President and CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO).