U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

Letters From Ben

September 18, 2021

Small Business Resiliency 

September 18, 2021

Dear Fellow Marylanders:

This week, as our nation celebrated our small businesses during National Small Business Week, my colleagues in Congress and I continued working hard to finalize President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Plan to rescue, recover, and rebuild America’s infrastructure, economy, and small businesses.

Phase one was the American Rescue Plan enacted in March, which created the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund to support struggling bars and restaurants, as well as the Community Navigator Pilot Program to strengthen outreach to underserved businesses.

Phase two of the plan, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed the Senate on August 10. And phase three, the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Budget, moved toward final passage on August 11 when the Senate voted to begin the reconciliation process.  

Over the past several weeks, committees in the House of Representatives have held hearings on the budget, including the House Small Business Committee, which approved the small business provisions of the budget to invest $25 billion in American small businesses over the next decade.

It is difficult to overstate the significance of these two pieces of legislation. Together, the Build Back Better Budget and bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act will make a once-in-a-generation investment in the American economy while making more equitable and just.

The Build Back Better Budget will invest in our nation’s small businesses and directly address the historic and pervasive barriers that prevent women, minorities, veterans, and entrepreneurs from other underserved communities, from starting and growing successful businesses. The Federal Government must meet small business owners where they are with affordable loan options, federal contracting and mentorship opportunities. This is exactly what the Build Back Better Agenda will do.

I am very proud that the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act includes my amendment to make permanent and invest in the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). MBDA is one of our best tools to address the historic and pervasive barriers to small business ownership that minorities face. This measure will give MBDA the leadership and resources necessary to help minority entrepreneurs start and grow successful businesses. I am especially proud that amendment directs the MBDA to create the Parren J. Mitchell Entrepreneurship Education Grants Program to cultivate the next generation of minority entrepreneurs on the campuses of our nation’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and minority serving institutions (MSIs); and enables the MBDA to serve more communities by authorizing the creation of regional MBDA offices and rural business centers to be administered through HBCUs and MSIs.

While I will continue working to get these measures through Congress and on President Biden’s desk, I have not lost sight of the need to support the small businesses most harmed by the pandemic. The food services sector, for example, has been one of the hardest-hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. A National Restaurant Association study released in December 2020 found that 110,000 eating and drinking places were closed temporarily, or for good. The study also found that the sector finished 2020 nearly 2.5 million jobs below its pre-COVID level; and that up to 8 million restaurant employees were laid off or furloughed during the peak of initial closures last year. Restaurants in Maryland and nationwide remain buried under more than 18 months of debt and they are struggling to rehire staff and purchase supplies.

It would be a grave mistake for Congress to misinterpret the hopeful signs of recovery as proof that restaurants and other hard-hit industries are back to where they were before the pandemic. That is why I am working with my colleagues in both parties and in both chambers of Congress to deliver additional, targeted relief to restaurants and other small businesses still struggling under the burden of COVID-19.

The theme of National Small Business Week this year was “resilience and renewal.” The theme reflected the ingenuity displayed by small businesses during the pandemic, as well as the opportunity that we in Congress have to create a better, fairer economy.  

We simply cannot allow this opportunity to go to waste. Congress must deliver relief to the industries that have been most affected by the pandemic, and we must pass the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act and the Build Back Better Budget as quickly as possible. Only then, can we begin rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and invest in our small businesses to create jobs. We must ensure that this economic recovery—unlike those in recent memory—reaches every community in America.

Thank you for your time. Get vaccinated. Shop Local!


Ben Cardin