RALEIGH- American Small Business Administrator Isabella Guzman was “really impressed” to learn about the growth of entrepreneurship in Raleigh, she shared in an exclusive interview with WRAL TechWire. Friday.
Guzman visited Raleigh as part of his nine-stop bus tour for National Small Business Week. His stop in Raleigh on Friday morning included a tour of rural North Carolina, attended by U.S. Congresswoman Deborah Ross and North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.
Speaking to WRAL Techwire from her tour bus after the event, Guzman discussed what she called “pretty incredible” growth rates for entrepreneurship in North Carolina. According to the Office of the Secretary of State, approximately 178,300 new businesses were created in NC in 2021a 40% jump from 2020, which was also a record year.
“It’s really remarkable, and it reflects the great support you have for small businesses and innovative startups,” Guzman said.
Guzman pointed to the Triangle region’s research institutions and accelerator programs as “entrepreneurship nodes” that boost innovation and help small businesses commercialize.
She also specifically referenced the First Flight Venture Center and said she was “really proud” of the work being done at First Flight.
First Flight received grants through the SBA’s FAST (Federal and State Technology) partner program for several years in a row and was one of three organizations in the Triangle area to receive $50,000 through the SBA Growth Acceleration Fund (GAFC) competition in 2021. This year, First Flight is using the grant to create 25 scholarships to help women entrepreneurs and product manufacturing startups participate in First Flight’s Propeller program.
Inflation, supply chain and hiring issues top small business owners’ concerns
But all is not rosy in the economy.
“We always focus on the core issues facing small businesses,” Guzman explained. “It’s always access to capital, health issues, employment issues, but particularly right now obviously it’s the tight labor market, inflationary pressures and supply chain. “
According to a recent Goldman Sachs survey, of more than 1,000 small business owners surveyed, 91% said labor, inflation and supply chain issues are the economic trends with the biggest negative impact on their small businesses.
“I would just say what I also know with contractors is that they’re also part of the solution,” Guzman said, “because the president wants to focus on expanding the production capacity of our nation. It means doing more and that’s what small businesses do.
She also referenced two specific SBA initiatives, one to transform the SBA’s capital programs so they are more affordable, especially for small lenders and start-up capital. She also mentioned the SBA initiatives that aim to simplify the use of SBA programs for providers and borrowers.
“We want to make sure we can help [small businesses] continue to fuel domestic supply chains and produce more here in the United States,” said Administrator Guzman.
Bus tour for National Small Business Week 2022
Guzman’s stop in Raleigh was part of the “Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship” bus tour, which was launched to coincide with National Small Business Week 2022.
The SBA has celebrated National Small Business Week for over 50 years. According to Administrator Guzman, this year’s theme reflects how entrepreneurship has helped recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.
“But coming out of that and looking ahead and seeing such great hope with entrepreneurship, that’s really what’s remarkable about this National Small Business Week,” Administrator Guzman said, “and why the President declared a National Small Business Week with the theme ‘Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship’ is what really happened.
Administrator Guzman said small businesses “support this strong economic growth and job creation” needed for economic recovery.
“And so we need to celebrate them, remind communities how important it is that we support our small businesses in so many ways, through our wallets and social media, because they have now had to embrace technology at such rates high,” the administrator said. Guzman. “It’s important for us to celebrate small businesses every day.”
She said the purpose of the bus tour was “to expand the reach and awareness of the SBA.”
To learn more about SBA programs for small business owners, visit sba.gov.