BY U.S. REP GRACE MENG
What do the local pizzeria, optometrist and neighborhood nail salon have in common? They are all small businesses; and if you walk down any commercial strip in Queens — from Bell Boulevard to Myrtle Avenue and Main Street to Queens Boulevard — you’ll see plenty of them.
Why? Because small businesses drive the economy here in our borough and across the nation. They are the engine that stimulates economic growth and the backbone of the region’s economy.
Small businesses also bring investment and innovation to communities; provide jobs to local residents; and heavily contribute to their local tax base, funding everything from schools, police and many other municipal services.
According to federal government statistics, 99.7 percent of all employer firms are small businesses. Small businesses also generate 63 percent of new jobs and make up 48.5 percent of private-sector employment.
With the prosperity of New York City and the country so closely tied to the success of small businesses, it is critical that government do all it can to help entrepreneurs make their businesses successful. On the federal level, a great deal of assistance is provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA), an independent agency created by Congress to assist, counsel and protect the interests of small-business owners. The SBA offers many programs for individuals to start and run a small business, such as providing grants and loans, and help to develop business plans and obtain government contracts, among many other services.
I urge all entrepreneurs to make use of the valuable resources that the SBA provides, whether it’s an idea for a startup or questions about operating an existing business. Go to SBA.gov to tap into the huge array of these services.
Just two weeks ago, I arranged for the head of the SBA, Maria Contreras-Sweet, to visit Queens, where she saw borough businesses firsthand. While meeting with area entrepreneurs, she, too, encouraged local small-business owners to take advantage of all that the agency has to offer.
As a member of the House Small Business Committee, I’ve made helping small businesses a top priority during my first term in Congress.
After organizing and taking part in a rare Congressional field hearing in Queens, I worked with the SBA to make it easier for entrepreneurs to gain critical access to capital. I also helped arrange for additional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) services in Queens, and I continue my efforts to secure a third full-service facility in the borough—a site that would be more central to our district and meet the language and cultural needs of area business owners.
There are several other initiatives I’ve been proud to spearhead, from hosting seminars to sponsoring and supporting legislation to helping entrepreneurs impacted by Hurricane Sandy. During my second term in 2015, I plan to continue these and other initiatives, and I’ll continue to work closely with the SBA and other government agencies. We must ensure that entrepreneurs are aware of the resources that are available to them, and that they stay up to date with the ever-changing business landscape.
With so much at stake, it is imperative that we help small businesses grow and thrive in order to ensure that our economy moves in the right direction and continues to recover from the economic downturn. As the daughter of Queens small-business owners, I have a profound understanding of the struggles and needs of small businesses. We cannot afford to let them down.
In addition to government resources, consumers must do their part. It is essential that Queens residents support small businesses in their communities. I’ll be doing so on National Small Business Saturday this Nov. 29. I hope you will as well.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng is a Democrat representing Queens.
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