On Thursday, July 29th, NGLCC was proud to participate in the latest edition of the “Getting Back on Track- Help is Here!” webinar series, featuring a conversation between the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, Isabella Guzman, and Madam Vice President Kamala Harris. A collaboration between the Small Business Administration and Public Private Strategies Institute, this webinar was a great opportunity for small business owners across America, particularly those struggling with the economic effects of Covid-19.
Rhett Buttle, founder and president of Public Private Strategies Institute, made introductory remarks for the afternoon’s events and importance. He emphasized the importance of the “Getting Back on Track-Help is Here!” series, noting that thousands of small business owners and leaders had been participating throughout the duration of the series. Some of the overall goals of the series are to help businesses understand their resources and tools, as well as connect with government officials about small business issues.
Isabella Guzman was welcomed next and discussed how the country’s economic recovery was in progress, yet was still struggling to reach many small and local businesses across the country. The Biden-Harris administration’s focus on equity in terms of capital has been a huge boost in recovery, providing more than one trillion dollars in relief. Guzman has worked closely with the administration to prioritize hard-working citizens and the small businesses that strengthen the nation’s economy.
Vice President Kamala Harris was introduced by Guzman. Harris highlighted how essential small businesses were to the country and the economy, as well as how incredibly resilient many have been since the start of the pandemic.
“I strongly believe that when someone starts a small business, it is a true act of self-determination,” the Vice President said. “A small business owner must have a vision, and through hard work and support, realize that vision, which of course not only helps determine their future but the future of their community. You are community leaders, and you are our country’s leaders.”
Vice President Harris spoke about how a top priority for both Biden and herself when coming into office was small business relief and the American Rescue Plan. As a result of their commitment and $60 billion USD in relief, the economy has grown at the fastest rate in nearly 40 years in the last six months.
The Vice President also noted that more than simple monetary relief was needed at this point. The next big focus of the administration needs to be access to capital and an improvement in infrastructures that supports growth. This might appear as goods to market transportation, direct consumer access to places, or even internet service inequity. Vice President Harris explained this latter inequity by using an example of a business owner talented in green farming techniques. Despite her importance as an entrepreneur and innovator, she had difficulty uploading her data due to difficulties with the rural position of the business and lack of internet connection.
The Q&A portion of the conversation began with Tiara Flynn, President and CEO of Sumnu Marketing, asking about when proper focus would be given to black women entrepreneurs specifically. Vice President Harris answered by discussing how many cracks and flaws in the economy and society have been shown recently. These have created great opportunities to grow and improve upon the current system, possibly marking a new era of change. The slights towards minority communities, such as black women entrepreneurs, can now be corrected, with inclusivity being one of the major goals of the Biden-Harris administration.
The secondary half of the webinar began with Renee Johnson, Senior Advisor of the Small Business Administration. Johnson highlighted that the focused upon region for this event was the Rocky Mountains, which comprises six states. Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado joined after this initial discussion to focus on issues specific to Rocky Mountain businesses.
Veronica Pugin, Senior Advisor, Office of Capital Access at the Small Business Administration, gave an informative overview of the Covid EIDL program available to small businesses. As she explained, it is a plan enacted in order to assist small businesses affected by Covid-19 in the form of loans, which has widely been the main source of economic relief for entrepreneurs.The Covid EIDL program offers two borrower-friendly loan types, micro and full, that range anywhere from $1,000 to $500,000 for small businesses, and are capital flexible.
The event continued into discussions of the American Rescue Plan, as mentioned previously by Vice President Harris. The American Rescue Plan was the major economic relief package passed at the beginning of 2021 to provide stimulus and promote recovery. It added onto the pre-existing CARES Act, which sought to help both small businesses and their consumers recover.
Amy Lea, Acting Regional Administrator for the Rocky Mountain Region of the SBA, explained that there are two major provisions to the ARP, including support for shuttered venue operators and support for restaurants. The Paycheck Protection Program is also available to businesses, and has forgiveness options if necessary. The Small Business Administration has a wide variety of funding programs, including loans, investment capital, disaster relief, surety bonds, and grants.
One of the biggest challenges to small businesses in the recent months has been the role of the vaccine in re-opening the economy and getting fully back to business. Johnson noted that the CDC is the best guidance a small business can follow during this time when engaging with questions about both the virus and the vaccine. Vaccines offer a large opportunity for operating at normal capacity, and having your consumers return. Likewise, less staffing and employment issues will occur from exposure and illness, so creating a COVID-19 Vaccine Plan for your business is of the utmost importance.
The afternoon concluded with a brief discussion regulated towards Rocky Mountain, in which Congressman Crow gave helpful insights and thanked the attendees and participants of the entire webinar.
NGLCC is again honored to have been a part of this wonderful opportunity for small businesses, and invite our Certified LGBTBE® partners to participate in upcoming events at the Small Business Administration and Public Private Strategies Institute.
Full recording of the event may be accessed here.