WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, D-Calif., introduced the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act. This bipartisan legislation would create a new competitive grant program through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for nonprofits, business districts, and Main Street organizations that provide tailored, on-the-ground assistance to small businesses in both urban and rural communities.
“The coronavirus pandemic hit small businesses in local communities across the country,” Senator Wicker said. “This legislation would support economic development on Main Streets in small towns across America and in Mississippi. It would also empower rural, low-income, and minority-owned businesses through direct funding and technical assistance.”
“The holiday shopping season serves a reminder of how important small businesses are to our communities and local economies,” Senator Padilla said. “Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on many small businesses, particularly those in low-income, rural, and minority communities. As we work to build back better, we cannot leave main street behind. The Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act would provide funding to organizations that support our small businesses, leveraging their expertise and knowledge of local neighborhoods to help entrepreneurs thrive.”
State and national business leaders praised Wicker and Padilla for their efforts to provide this needed funding.
“The Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act will give organizations like ours the ability to expand our outreach and provide more assistance to entrepreneurs,” said Brantley Snipes, the Executive Director of Main Street Greenwood. “Our small businesses are the lifeblood of the Greenwood community, and this legislation will help us fill the gaps in the support they need.”
“We truly thank Senator Wicker for his support by introducing the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act and appreciate the bipartisan efforts to invest in local initiatives that spur inclusive economic growth,” said David L. Jackson, the Executive Director of Delta Housing Development Corporation. “We believe that the legislation will help streamline access to EDA resources and expand support for Mississippi’s small businesses and business districts. Our small rural communities will greatly benefit from these investments.”
“Latino entrepreneurs are leading agents of our nation’s economy, starting approximately one in four businesses in the U.S. Their success is key to our economic recovery following the pandemic,” said Marla Bilonick, President and CEO of the National Association of Latino Community Builders. “Government relief, while swift, has room to expand in terms of connecting with and addressing their unique needs. By leveraging the expertise of national nonprofit organizations with a track record of successfully serving Latino and other underserved entrepreneurs, the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act will level the playing field and provide the expert assistance small businesses needed to drive innovation, create jobs and bolster Main Streets across the country.”
The grant program created by the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act recognizes that each business has unique challenges and opportunities and creates additional support that is tailored to their needs. The bill would authorize $250 million for this program over the next five years to fund community-based initiatives to help small businesses identify resources and develop skills to retain and create jobs. National nonprofits that apply for grants through the program would be required to work with locally-based nonprofit or public community and economic development partners.
Small businesses are the economic engine of states across the country. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, in 2017, Mississippi’s small businesses employed 437,200 people, or 46.5 percent of the private workforce. California’s small businesses employed 7.2 million people, or 48.5 percent of the private workforce.