Padilla, Wicker Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Revitalize Small Businesses

Bill would invest $250 million to support economic development in low-income, rural, and minority communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) 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 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.”

“The coronavirus pandemic hit small businesses in local communities across the country,” Senator Wicker said. “This legislation would support economic development on main street in small towns across America and in Mississippi. It would also empower rural, low-income, and minority businesses through direct funding and technical assistance.”

“We know expanding place-based support for California’s small businesses creates thriving commercial districts and downtowns in urban and rural communities,” said Amanda Elliott, Senior Program Officer and Director of Programs, California Main Street. “At California Main Street, we are committed to supporting business district organizations given their critical role in fostering inclusive transformation strategies and thank Senators Padilla and Wicker for introducing the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act to expand the impact of these programs.”

“We applaud Senator Padilla for the introduction of the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act,” said Alexis Villanueva, Senior Program Manager of Economic Development, City Heights Community Development Corporation (San Diego, CA). “The legislation will help foster inclusive place-based economic development initiatives and support for local business owners by investing in the on-the-ground organizational infrastructure that strengthens communities while promoting the growth of resilient and diverse businesses.”

“We thank Senator Padilla for his continued commitment to inclusive economic growth, and believe that the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act will help fill a gap in resources available to business development organizations,” said Erich Nakano, Executive Director, Little Tokyo Service Center (Los Angeles, CA). “In turn, this will help ensure that organizations like ours are able to expand our work in fostering equitable small business ecosystems and ensuring business districts have the tools needed to support small businesses.”

“LISC thanks Senators Padilla and Wicker for sponsoring the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act,” said Matt Josephs, Senior Vice President of Policy, Local Initiatives Support Corporation. “The legislation fosters equitable access to EDA resources by strengthening the capacity of community-based groups dedicated to supporting small businesses in historically underinvested commercial corridors in rural and urban communities. Increasing EDA support for the capacity-building of place-based business development organizations accelerates the growth of existing and aspiring entrepreneurs, while contributing to the vibrancy and resiliency of main streets and commercial corridors.”

“The Revitalizing Small and Local Business Act will build the capacity of existing non-profit networks of place-based organizations and expand opportunity for underrepresented entrepreneurs,” said Patrice Frey, President and CEO, Main Street America. “By investing in Main Street, this legislation can simultaneously activate places and create opportunities for entrepreneurs. We are grateful for the support of Senators Padilla and Wicker in sponsoring this bipartisan legislation.”

“Latino entrepreneurs are leading agents of our nation’s economy, starting approximately 1 in 4 businesses in the U.S.,” said Marla Bilonick, President and CEO, National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders. “Their success is key to our economic recovery following the pandemic. 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.”

“Even before COVID-19, Minority Business Enterprises have been succeeding in spite of the many barriers minority entrepreneurs face as they work to start and grow a business,” said Ramiro A. Cavazos, President and CEO, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “When we fail to invest in minority-owned firms, our economy suffers. Partnering with our national network of minority chambers of commerce throughout the country, organizations like these have implemented nationwide technical assistance programs to help all small and minority-owned businesses during this unprecedented crisis. We have spent the last twenty months leveraging our nationwide network, building the required infrastructure, and increasing our operational capacity to help save minority businesses around the country. The economic vitality of our small and minority-owned businesses and business districts depends on the continuation of these critical programs and services. The Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act would allow organizations like minority chambers of commerce to expand programs and continue helping business build back better.”

“As Mississippi’s leading organization for preservation-based community and economic development, we fully support the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act,” said Thomas Gregory, State Coordinator of the Mississippi Main Street Association. “The Mississippi Main Street Association is excited about the potential of this funding to strengthen a network of organizations committed to supporting entrepreneurs in our Main Street communities and beyond.”

This bill is also supported by the Small Business Roundtable and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance.

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, California’s small businesses employed 7.2 million people, or 48.5 percent of the private workforce. Mississippi’s small businesses employed 437,200 people, or 46.5 percent of the private workforce.

A copy of the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act can be found here.

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