It may appear that the economy is back to business but, after experiencing the shock of COVID-19, many small businesses are still unable to recover. The recovery efforts have impacted the smallest businesses within many demographics of our communities, and access to more resources has become a priority in the Biden Administration and a major key in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as it goes through Congress.
Much is at stake for small business when this gets passed as it can deliver on President Biden’s Build Back Better plan to increase access to contracting, capital and technical assistance for small firms across the country. With potential mass spending in physical infrastructure over years, small businesses stand to also benefit from upcoming projects and contracts.
Specifically, here are seven ways the Infrastructure Bill could help small businesses thrive in a 21st century economy.
- Increase federal contracting opportunities for small businesses: From upgrading Veterans Affairs medical centers to rehabilitating other federal buildings, the plan will mobilize small contractors to meet the great challenges of our time.
- Launch a historic effort to empower small-business creation and expansion in underserved communities: The bill will create a national network of incubators and business development centers to help more entrepreneurs start new businesses, access government contracts and expand their customer bases.
- Give small businesses — especially underserved small businesses — the tools to drive the innovation economy: Investments in federal programs will be made that empower small firms to participate in federal research and development initiatives that have the potential for commercialization.
- Help minority-owned manufacturing businesses access capital: It will create a new grant program through the Minority Business Development Agency that will help small, underserved manufacturers access private capital.
- Create a new financing facility for small manufacturers: It will seed a new program to co-invest with private capital in the industrial base.
- Increase access to lending and investment capital: It will enable small businesses to drive the recovery by injecting billions of dollars in funding into the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan program.
- Strengthen manufacturing supply chains and innovation ecosystems: It will bolster the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Manufacturing USA, create a new office to monitor industrial capacity and support the production of critical goods, and establish regional hubs to fuel technology development and create new businesses.
Now is the time for small businesses to watch closely how their elected representatives move this major investment forward. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the needs and vulnerabilities of our nation’s 30 million small businesses, particularly those in under-resourced communities. Passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill would be a necessary step in the economic recovery of our country.
EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor, and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.
Para la versión en español de este artículo, haga clic aquí.