While the holidays may still look a little different this year, the U.S. has made significant strides to ensure Americans can safely congregate with their loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday and take part in celebrations to shop local and small on Small Business Saturday. Last year, shoppers came together in full force to support their local communities, and Small Business Saturday hit a record high with an estimated $19.8 billion in reported spending. This year, holiday consumer spending is projected to break new records.
Under Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has been at the forefront of the recovery effort, equitably delivering economic relief to small businesses along Main Streets – from the mom-and-pop restaurants and retail shops to the contractors and small manufacturers. While much progress has been made to get Americans back to work, back to business, and back to normal, the Administration and the SBA have continued to make equity a priority by increasing access to government resources, lowering the barriers to opportunity, and helping expand the reach of the customers we serve.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s implementation of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) and other traditional loan programs have helped the smallest of small businesses survive, and the work continues. In the midst of a global pandemic, under Administrator Guzman, the SBA delivered a record number of its traditional loans to our nation’s small businesses while also scaling up to meet the immense demand for COVID-related economic relief. This year, SBA has overseen the distribution of nearly $416.3 billion in emergency relief aid to more than 6 million impacted small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program ($280 billion), Restaurant Revitalization Fund ($28.6 billion), Shuttered Venue Operators Grant ($13.4 billion), COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program ($88 billion), and COVID EIDL Targeted and Supplemental Advance programs ($6.3 billion combined). This support has directly helped small businesses stay open and keep workers on payrolls, especially for those owned by our underserved, including women, people of color, veterans, and rural and low-income communities.
Highlights of the significant ARP resources going to our hardest hit, underserved small businesses:
- The Restaurant Revitalization Fund has supported more than 100,000 restaurants and other food and beverage businesses. Of the $28.6 billion allocated, $18 billion in critical relief aid has been distributed to women-owned ($7.5 billion), veteran-owned ($1 billion), and socially and economically disadvantaged-owned ($6.7 billion) small businesses.
- The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant has awarded grants to nearly 13,000 live venues, theaters, and other entertainment and cultural hubs. Since the inception of the SVOG program, more than 90% of the grants have supported venues with fewer than 50 employees – or the smallest of small businesses – a key priority of this Administration.
- The retooled COVID EIDL Targeted and Supplemental Advance programs have provided almost 500,000 small businesses approximately $6.3 billion in financial relief, focused on supporting those from low-income communities who were especially hard-hit and are still reeling from the pandemic.
- And the Community Navigators Pilot Program has awarded nearly $100 million in funding to 51 organizations that will work with hundreds of local groups to connect small business owners to government resources and help level the playing field for America’s entrepreneurs. The two-year grants were designated in three tiers at $1 million, $2 million and $5 million.
Through SBA’s core lending programs, $44.8 billion in funding was delivered to small businesses in fiscal year (FY) 2021 through more than 61,000 loans. Out of $36.5 billion in 7(a) loans, nearly $11 billion went to minority business owners ($7.5 billion for Asian American and Pacific Islanders, $2.1 billion for Hispanic Americans, $959 million for Black Americans, and $246 million American Indians), $5 billion to women-owned businesses, and $1.2 billion to veteran-owned businesses. Through the SBA’s $8.2 billion 504 program, minority business owners received nearly $1.9 billion in lending ($1.1 billion for Asian American and Pacific Islanders, $632 million for Hispanic Americans, $106 million for Black Americans, and $26 million American Indians) with over $712 million going to women-owned businesses. The SBA also increased its support of rural small businesses by nearly 33 percent.
However, we know work remains in closing capital gaps. Despite significant growth in the SBA’s core 7(a) and 504 lending programs, many entrepreneurs continue to face challenges in accessing funding to start and grow their businesses. Small-dollar lending in our 7(a) program has decreased and become more concentrated with limited lenders, which is why the SBA will prioritize direct lending and expanded distribution networks to fill capital gaps in FY 2022 and beyond.
Further, as many small businesses continue to face uncertainty due to the pandemic, the SBA made key improvements to the COVID EIDL program so that entrepreneurs could take advantage of the billions of dollars in remaining COVID EIDL funds available. With 24 months deferred payments, flexible use of funds and a new cap of up to $2 million, the SBA is encouraging small businesses to apply today to take advantage of this program through December 31, 2021.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Build Back Better Act will revitalize entrepreneurship. President Biden’s historic legislative priorities, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Build Back Better Act (BBB), will be transformative for the small business economy. And, with the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re already halfway there only, 10 months into this Administration. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will empower America’s entrepreneurs to innovate, create good-paying jobs, and provide the essential goods and services to rebuild our infrastructure and address climate change. Specifically, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will:
- Improve small businesses’ ability to get their goods quickly into the hands of their customers by upgrading our nation’s transportation infrastructure. The President’s plan invests an additional $621 billion in transportation infrastructure and resilience to help small businesses get their goods to their customers by reducing shipping and logistics delays through upgrading our nation’s rails, roads, bridges, public transportation, ports, airports, and freight rail.
- Help small businesses reach new customers and recruit/hire new employees by providing universal broadband. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will invest $65 billion in broadband infrastructure, ensuring that every American has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet and fostering a more robust micro businesses ecosystem.
- Provide opportunities to access billions of dollars’ worth of federal, state, and local government contracts, including more than $37 billion through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a historic procurement effort designed to support small businesses and tackle long standing inequities in the contracting system. The benefits are long, but chief among them will be opportunities to access billions of dollars’ worth of federal, state, and local government contracts for infrastructure and clean energy projects such as manufacturing solar panels, wind farms, batteries, and electric vehicles (EVs) that will grow our energy supply chains and build the national network of charging stations.
The Build Back Better Act, if passed, will make even more investments in small businesses. From filling capital gaps with direct lending options, an expanded mission lender network and increased micro and emerging investment companies to incubation and acceleration programs, investments at SBA will be historic. It will also make key investments in the issues that matter to small business owners the most: strengthening a skilled workforce and assisting workers with affordable childcare, eldercare and health care options.
In the coming months and years, the SBA will reimagine itself to help small businesses prepare for the future through a customer first experience and technology forward resources to meet businesses where they are. We know we still have work to do. Under Administrator Guzman, the SBA team is thinking creatively about how to best support entrepreneurs at all stages of their life cycles in a post-COVID world. As the pandemic taught us, the world has grown increasingly interconnected. Yet, many in the small business economy lack the capital, knowledge and resources to leverage opportunities to grow in domestic supply chains and global markets. As President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law positions American businesses to compete in the burgeoning industries solving climate change and to grow clean-energy supply chains that will help expand global exporting, the SBA will be ready to help our innovators navigate an unprecedented number of opportunities. And it will be ready to support through our extensive on-the-ground resource networks, including 68 district offices, over 1000 resource partner centers, and 51 community navigators. Small business owners will have access to critical expertise needed to leverage every opportunity they deserve arising through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or the Build Back Better Act.