Dear Fellow Marylanders,
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, spending time with family, friends or however you chose to spend the holiday. I loved being with family and eating too much turkey.
Today, however, really is one of my favorite days of the year: Small Business Saturday. This isn’t another holiday propped up by the greeting card industry. This is an annual celebration of our nation’s hardworking small business owners and entrepreneurs. This year, I hope you will join me to #BuyLocal and #ShopSmall, supporting our local entrepreneurial communities, which are the backbone of our economy.
Small Business Saturday is a celebration every year, but this year, as many small businesses work hard to recover from the pandemic, we have many more reason to celebrate and give thanks. Maryland small businesses, and others nationwide, have faced enormous challenges over the last few years, from the COVID-19 pandemic to supply chain issues, and an overall disruption to the American economy. Thousands of small businesses, from restaurants and barber shops, to engineering firms and business incubators, were forced to close.
Despite these challenges, entrepreneurship remains one of the most reliable paths to the middle class. In fact, 2020 and 2021 were record years for new business applications, with 5.4 million filed in 2021 alone.
Women-owned small businesses have been and continue to be the drivers of economic growth in our economy, despite the myriad headwinds they face on the path to success. Black women in particular are leading this charge; the number of businesses owned by Black women grew 50 percent from 2014 to 2019. They accounted for 42 percent of all women who opened a new business during that time, and represented 36 percent of all Black employers. For women who may shoulder the caregiving responsibilities of their household, or for Black women who may face additional discrimination in the workplace, entrepreneurship is a path of self-determination.
And for those affected by the criminal justice system, who face significant barriers entering or reentering traditional employment, entrepreneurship is an opportunity for growth, and for a fresh start.
The entrepreneurial spirit of the small business community in Maryland has long been one of our state’s greatest assets. Now, as Marylanders work hard to build back from a season of hardship, there is so much to celebrate. Sixty-six percent of small business owners expect to see revenue increases over the next year – a 7-year high! Fifty-two percent of entrepreneurs plan on expanding their businesses this year, and 83 percent plan to obtain capital for their businesses, a huge step.
As the chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, I’ve been working hard with my colleagues in Congress to help support this growth. This year saw the opening of Maryland’s 4th Women’s Business Center at Bowie State University. It is an amazing resource for minority entrepreneurs. Maryland also hosted its inaugural TEDCO Tech Fair, an event that connected small business owners to resources and technology services to help their businesses develop their online presence.
There are several bills currently under consideration to support our small businesses. In October, I was proud to see the unanimous passage of six small business bills in the Senate. Once enacted, these bills will help provide small businesses with tools to train their staff in cybersecurity safety, and tools to help us reach underserved businesses and communities. I was also proud to introduce the Federal Fairness in Contracting Act, and the Community Advantage Loan Program Permanency Act; these bills will reform contracting programs to help small businesses fairly compete for federal contracts, and codify the Community Advantage Pilot Program, a highly successful SBA program that focuses on bringing capital to underserved communities. I am hopeful the House of Representatives will approve these bills before the end of the year.
This month also marked the one-year anniversary of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which has already exceeded its goal in regards to inclusion of America’s small businesses.
On this Small Business Saturday, I hope you will join Myrna and me in celebrating Maryland’s small businesses, and entrepreneurs across the country. We’ll be shopping at some of our favorite local stores and visiting with some of the incredible entrepreneurs who keep our economy running. And on Monday, when Congress returns to Washington for the final stretch of the year, I will continue to be the most vocal of advocates for all our small businesses and keep working to level the playing field for minority and underserved entrepreneurs.
Recovery for small businesses can be an uphill battle at times, but I am incredibly proud of the progress Maryland has seen since the last Small Business Saturday.
Please stay safe and be well. Remember to Shop Small and Buy Local.