Philadelphia, PA, March 02, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — On Monday, February 28, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the voice for America’s 32.5 million small businesses in President Biden’s Cabinet, joined U.S. Reps. Dwight Evans and Chrissy Houlahan in Philadelphia for a roundtable discussion with Black small business owners to highlight the economic impact of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, and the SBA’s COVID-19 relief funding programs.
Administrator Guzman kicked off her trip by meeting Reps. Evans and Houlahan, and National Urban League’s President and CEO, Marc Morial, and participating in a National Urban League Black History Month Small Business Roundtable featuring local small business owners to discuss the state of small businesses in Philadelphia under the Biden-Harris Administration and its policies, which are designed to create generational wealth through entrepreneurship.
“For decades, in the face of underinvestment, discrimination, and systemic prejudice, many Black entrepreneurs have had to forge their own paths to achieve the American dream. Now more than ever, we need to do more to empower Black entrepreneurs to continue powering America’s strong recovery,” said Administrator Guzman. “Together with Representatives Dwight Evans and Chrissy Houlahan, I met with several Philadelphia entrepreneurs who are doing the important work of creating jobs, building economic output, and supporting their neighborhoods. In addition, I was honored to join Marc Morial to highlight the National Urban League’s role as a Hub in the SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot program. The SBA will leverage the Urban League’s extensive network to reach small businesses and entrepreneurs who have historically been left behind and are now launching startups at record rates. With growth opportunities ahead, including $1.2 trillion being invested through President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Bipartisan Infrastructure Law), the SBA is pulling out all the stops to make sure Philadelphia’s Black entrepreneurs—and entrepreneurs all across America—are ready to seize this moment and help build a better, more equitable, America.”
The National Urban League is one of 51 Hubs within the SBA’s Community Navigator Program ― an American Rescue Plan initiative designed to reduce barriers faced by underserved entrepreneurs when attempting to access programs needed to recover from economic crises or to simply start and grow their business. The program provides $100 million in funding to 51 Hubs to work with community groups (spokes) to improve access to government resources.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said Rep. Evans. “As a member of the Small Business Committee, I am committed to increasing minority entrepreneurship. I want to thank Administrator Guzman for coming back to Philadelphia, and I congratulate the Urban League for being selected as one of SBA’s Community Navigators.”
“After a pandemic, global supply chain issues, and disparities in our economic recovery, it has been an especially trying time for Black small business owners,” said Rep. Houlahan. “That’s why I was honored to join Monday’s conversation with the Small Business Administration and the Urban League of Philadelphia to highlight the efforts we’ve taken to support small businesses so far and recommit ourselves to the work ahead, including building out the navigator program partnership to deliver necessary tools and resources. Small businesses are the engine that keeps our economy moving forward, and I will always lift up their voices and champion their priorities.”
Following the roundtable discussion, Administrator Guzman also visited Community First Fund, an SBA Microlender and 7(a) Loan Guaranty Lender that provides loans, training, and one-on-one counseling to low-income communities to increase opportunities for economic prosperity.
Administrator Guzman ended her trip by meeting Silvia’s Bakery owner, Silvia Paulino. Silvia’s Bakery specializes in baking pastries and creating Latin-inspired desserts for wholesale and retail clients. In 2020, Paulino was chosen as the Eastern PA District’s Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year. Silvia’s Bakery braved the worst of the pandemic with funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), and COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (COVID EIDL) and used it to fund her payroll and for working capital, including inventory, mortgage payments, and utilities.
This visit marks the Administrator’s second official visit to Philadelphia, PA. In her first year in office, Administrator Guzman has visited 26 states and U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, and over 41 cities.