Tell your con­gress­man not to hurt small busi­nesses

Springfield Sun - - OPINION -

Sup­port­ing small and mi­nor­ity-owned busi­nesses is good for our econ­omy.

Small busi­nesses are re­spon­si­ble for the ma­jor­ity of jobs growth in the U.S. and mi­nor­i­ty­owned busi­nesses cre­ate jobs at three times the rate of their non­mi­nor­ity coun­ter­parts.

Here in Penn­syl­va­nia, Gov. Tom Wolf’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has been fight­ing to make more re­sources avail­able in the Com­mon­wealth to help th­ese busi­nesses to suc­ceed and grow ever since the Gov­er­nor signed Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der 2015-11 Di­ver­sity, In­clu­sion and Small Busi­ness Op­por­tu­ni­ties in Com­mon­wealth Pro­cure­ment and in Penn­syl­va­nia’s Econ­omy.

Last year, the De­part­ment of Com­mu­nity and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment in­tro­duced the Small Di­verse Busi­ness Cap­i­tal Ac­cess Pro­gram, which pro­vides low-in­ter­est loans and lines of credit to small busi­nesses in Penn­syl­va­nia that have been cer­ti­fied as mi­nor­ity-, woman-, veteran-, dis­able­dor Lgbt-owned small busi­nesses with 100 or fewer full-time em­ploy­ees.

Greater ac­cess to cap­i­tal is pro­vided to th­ese busi­nesses in re­turn for their com­mit­ments to cre­at­ing and re­tain­ing full-time jobs in our state.

This ex­cit­ing new pro­gram is ad­min­is­tered by the Penn­syl­va­nia In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Author­ity. Ac­cord­ing to the re­cently re­leased Fed­eral Re­serve Bank Small Busi­ness Credit Sur­vey, 61 per­cent of Amer­i­can small busi­nesses faced fi­nan­cial chal­lenges in 2016, and 44 per­cent had prob­lems get­ting suf­fi­cient credit to sup­port their op­er­a­tions.

Penn­syl­va­nia is tak­ing the steps to prop­erly gauge the sever­ity of th­ese and other is­sues fac­ing our small di­verse busi­ness com­mu­nity.

For ex­am­ple, the Com­mon­wealth will soon com­mis­sion the state’s first-ever com­pre­hen­sive statewide dis­par­ity study. The re­sults of the study will be used to im­prove the Com­mon­wealth’s ap­proach to con­tract­ing, statewide. Penn­syl­va­nia can lead the way.

Un­for­tu­nately, not ev­ery­one feels the same way. With his pro­posed $43.2 mil­lion cut to the Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Pres­i­dent Trump’s bud­get specif­i­cally tar­gets the Mi­nor­ity Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Agency and ini­tia­tives like the Pro­gram for In­vest­ment in Mi­cro-en­trepreneurs, or PRIME, for elim­i­na­tion.

The PRIME pro­gram and oth­ers that pro­mote busi­ness own­er­ship among the most vul­ner­a­ble seg­ments of our pop­u­la­tion are all on the fed­eral chop­ping block.

Repub­li­cans in the Penn­syl­va­nia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ev­i­dently share Pres­i­dent Trump’s mind­set.

Their crip­pling bud­get bill, HB 218, slashes fund­ing to crit­i­cal agen­cies and pro­grams. We have deep con­cerns about the im­pact that this bill’s in­cre­men­tal cuts of more than $800 mil­lion would have on the Com­mon­wealth’s abil­ity to pro­vide vi­tal ser­vices.

HB 218 even in­cludes a short­sighted and dev­as­tat­ing $3.9 mil­lion cut to our Part­ner­ships for Re­gional Eco­nomic Per­for­mance pro­gram, or PREP, which sup­ports re­gional co­or­di­na­tion ser­vices, and pro­vides per­for­mance­based grants to lo­cal In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Or­ga­ni­za­tions, De­vel­op­ment Dis­tricts, and Small Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Cen­ters.

Pres­i­dent Trump’s bud­get pro­posal and Penn­syl­va­nia’s HB 218 would both be bad for small and small di­verse busi­nesses in Penn­syl­va­nia and bad for our econ­omy. Both would un­der­mine the re­cent progress we have made thanks to Gov­er­nor Wolf’s lead­er­ship.

Small and small di­verse busi­ness own­ers are our fam­ily, friends and neigh­bors. They are part of our com­mu­ni­ties. Sup­port them now by con­tact­ing your state and fed­eral leg­is­la­tors and let­ting them know that you are op­posed to spend­ing plans that would cut th­ese vi­tal pro­grams that strengthen our econ­omy and com­mu­ni­ties.

Curt Top­per is the sec­re­tary of the Penn­syl­va­nia De­part­ment of Gen­eral Ser­vices, and Den­nis Davin is the sec­re­tary of the Penn­syl­va­nia De­part­ment of Com­mu­nity and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment.

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