Statement of the Hon. Nydia Velazquez on A Discussion with SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman
Washington, November 16, 2021
First, I’d like to welcome Administrator Guzman. Thank you for being here today. We appreciate you coming in for another appearance before this committee during your short time as administrator.
Back in March, when you were confirmed, small firms were still reeling from 2020, a year when around 800,000 small businesses permanently closed their doors – roughly 30 percent more than in a typical year. Since then, you and the dedicated staff at SBA have worked tirelessly to administer the relief programs that Congress created and help entrepreneurs get back on their feet.
And the work of the Agency should not go unheralded today. Small firms all across the country are in a better place thanks to the American Rescue Plan, and the economic relief programs Congress passed. The economy has added an average of 620,000 jobs per month since President Biden took office. And small firms are leading the way. These figures would not have been possible without the historic relief measures that this committee put in place and the work of the SBA.
In addition to massive demand for the relief programs, the agency has had to operate its traditional lending offerings and core programs. I was pleased to see your recent announcement that traditional SBA loan programs provided a record amount of funding to small firms in fiscal year 2021 – $44.8 billion in financing through more than 61,000 loans, to be exact. These numbers are evidence of the extraordinary potential that the agency has to help entrepreneurs get back on track.
I look forward to hearing more about your vision for the agency and how we can all work together to highlight efforts that have been successful and thoughtfully examine the programs that need improving. This will require a substantive, focused, and measured conversation on SBA’s programs and the issues facing us today.
America’s small employers deserve no less. They don’t have time for accusations, gotcha questions, and partisan bickering. They are 100 percent focused on their survival and future. I, too, want to look to the future. With COVID cases falling and vaccination rates rising, we’re steadily putting COVID behind us. This new post-covid economy may be unfamiliar for many entrepreneurs, but it also presents a great deal of opportunity.
I believe these opportunities will only increase with President Biden’s agenda to build back better and correct decisions made in the previous administration that has led to many of the crises we face today – such as inflation, workforce shortages, supply chain disruptions, inequity in health care and childcare, and worst of all a slow recovery. So much time was wasted last Congress but now we are course correcting to address many of these issues by investing in America.
Earlier this month, House Democrats and a handful of our Republican colleagues finally delivered on the promises of infrastructure week by passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This legislation will rebuild roads and bridges, expand broadband access, and generally prepare the American economy to grow from the bottom up in the 21st century.
The bill will also allow small firms to play a role in revitalizing American infrastructure, creating many good-paying jobs that can’t be sent overseas. In fact, Republican Senator Rob Portman described these investments as adding “to the supply side of the economy, and will be counter-inflationary at a time of rising inflation.”
Democrats are also busy providing small businesses with a substantial $5 billion investment through the Build Back Better Act. The bill will tackle core small businesses issues by improving access to capital, boosting underrepresented firms, and creating opportunities for small contractors. The legislation will pave the way for recovery in the short term and prosperity in the future.
Taken together, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Build Back Better act amount to a generational commitment to the success of American small businesses. You and the staff at SBA are a key component to these initiatives. So, I look forward to hearing your testimony and discussing these issues today.