U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

Letters From Ben

April 1, 2023

We All Have a Sabatino’s

This week I joined President Biden at the White House to help launch the second annual Small Business Administration Women’s Business Summit. The excitement on the White House grounds was palpable, and rightly so. Under this administration, a record number of new businesses filed startup applications, with women leading the way.

This week in Frederick I also joined a group of veterans who own small businesses to help spotlight the remarkable array of resources available to help their growth. The informative exchange with Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater and Mayor Michael O’Connor featured Smithsburg resident Niki Falzone of Platoon 22, a group dedicated to reducing suicide by veterans. The discussion made it clear that when we support expanded opportunities for those who have served in the military, we are providing much more than only small business support.

In my role as Chair of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, I’ve had the privilege of meeting standout advocates for our small businesses like Niki. I have seen personally how businesses are the backbone of our economy and communities. What does it mean for small businesses to be the backbone of our economyFactually, we can talk about how small businesses account for 99.9% of all U.S. business, or how nearly half of all U.S. employees are employed by a small business – but let me repeat a key stat again: 99.9% of all U.S. businesses are small businesses.

When we talk about small businesses as the backbone of our economy we also talk about small businesses as the backbone to our communities. I think about places like Sabatino’s in Baltimore, which I’m sure many of you have either been to or heard stories of. In 1955, two Italian immigrants, Joseph Canzani and Sabatino Luperini, pooled some money to start a family restaurant in a rowhome in Little Italy. Fueled with big dreams and good recipes, they started a restaurant that today anchors Little Italy and has seen countless public servants, including me, enjoying their marinara sauce while thinking through how to serve the people of Maryland.

Look, we all have a Sabatino’s. We all know a small business that brings our communities together and helps identify the vibrant places we know as home.

Large businesses start small. They start with big dreams. Entrepreneurs that through grit and vision brought their ideas to life and often times risked more than they had. That’s what our country was built on.

I have a bold prediction: our nation will continue to strengthen and support our small businesses at unprecedented rates. And, that’s also a promise I have made to small business owners. I know this because working with the Biden administration, we have taken extraordinary measures to support Main Street while creating a more fair and just nation for our most underserved entrepreneurs.

What it takes is vision. As Democrats, we believe that we can come together and deliver for those whose very lives depend on our work.

That is why I stand shoulder to shoulder with my Democratic colleagues fighting to put people first – to put small business owners first, and to work in a bipartisan manner to deliver results in Washington.

We delivered for the people. For individuals like Carl Williams in Los Angeles, who founded Royal Men Solutions. After he was released from prison, Carl heard about the Minority Business Development Agency’s Entrepreneurship Education for Formerly Incarcerated Persons Center in Los Angeles. His dream of becoming a third-generation carpenter and making his father proud took flight through this program. Carl explains, and I quote:

“The information the MBDA Center afforded me was invaluable, teaching me the elevator pitch, understanding my competition, standing out as a custom furniture builder, and knowing my value. All of their advice was an intricate part of my growth and development in the business world.”

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we were able to pass legislation that establishes in statute the Minority Business Development Agency that Carl depended on.

We authorized $110 million per year for the agency through Fiscal Year 2025 and elevated the office by creating an Under Secretary position to lead the agency. The funds will expand the geographic reach of the MBDA by authorizing the creation of regional MBDA offices and rural business centers and creating the Parren J. Mitchell Entrepreneurship Education Grants Program to support minority entrepreneurs at HBCUs and MSIs.

We delivered for founders like Miles Barr, Richard Lunt and Vladimir Bulovic, who at MIT imagined a world where they could seamlessly help limit our carbon footprint through transparent solar technologies. The company has already started producing small size windows that produce energy and may help reduce our total national energy consumption by up to 12%. Thanks to funding from the Small Business Innovation Research or SBIR program, they were able to spin out of MIT and pursue their entrepreneurial dream.  

Through the SBIR and STTR Extension Act of 2022, the program that Miles, Richard and Vladimir depended on was reauthorized through September 30, 2025. The legislation also includes language that ensures the largest SBIR/STTR award winners are adequately transitioning and commercializing their technologies in order to keep our country safe through innovation.

Working with the Biden Administration, we delivered for veterans, women entrepreneurs, rural communities, and the mom-and-pop shops that keep our communities vibrant. Because of COVID-19, we knew this was not a time to sit back and watch the small business we love close their doors. Instead, we rolled up our sleeves, took care of Main Street, and while we saw way too many small businesses close, we saw many of them come back stronger than ever before. And entrepreneurs did the same.

In a remarkable comeback, under the Biden administration, we have seen 10.5 million new business applications, making 2021 and 2022 record years. Through the Inflation Reduction Act, we helped small businesses reduce their energy costs while improving their environmental sustainability. And through broadband investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we will help ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet and create new opportunities for small businesses nationwide to hire new employees and reach new customers online.

I want American entrepreneurs and small business owners to know this: Dream big – our nation and its path forward depend on it.

I look forward to continuing to have the conversations that help us clearly see the needs of our small business owners.  By working in a bipartisan manner, we will bring about some of the most prosperous, vibrant and equitable years our nation has ever seen. 

Thank you for your time. Please feel free to reply to this email with your thoughts on this and any other topics.