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Statement of the Hon. Nydia Velazquez on Oversight Over the SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. America’s 33 million small businesses are the foundation of our nation’s economy. They account for two-thirds of new jobs and have powered our post-pandemic recovery.

Launching a small business, though, is not for the faint of heart. When it comes to turning a great idea into a thriving business, entrepreneurs can face a number of challenges.
To assist entrepreneurs, SBA offers a range of free or low-cost entrepreneurial counseling and training services. The services are delivered through Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and SCORE. They counsel approximately one million small business owners every year.

Entrepreneurial development initiatives have proven to be a great return on investment. Studies have shown that small businesses receiving 3 or more hours of counseling have higher survival rates than firms that do not receive assistance. Unfortunately, these services are only reaching a small fraction of our nation’s small businesses, and certain communities can get left behind.

A recent report by the Office of Advocacy confirms that “large and persistent racial disparities in business ownership and outcomes have existed for some time in the United States and well known.”
Only 5 percent of Blacks and 8 percent of Latinos own small businesses, compared to more than 10 percent of non-Latino whites.
Moreover, Black and Latino-owned businesses have lower average sales and hire fewer employees.
A well-known challenge for women, minority, and rural entrepreneurs is lack of access to capital and mentorship.

Today, I hope to learn what your office is doing to address these challenges and increase counseling to communities that need it the most. I would also like to know what is working well, and what needs to be improved at the Office of Entrepreneurial Development.
And it would be helpful to hear your views on the pending legislation such as the SBDC Improvement Act of 2023, the Women’s Business Centers Improvement Act of 2023, and the SCORE for Small Business Act. These bills easily passed the House in each of the last two Congresses.

My Democratic colleagues and I are fully committed to serving America’s entrepreneurs and providing resources that put them in the best position to survive and thrive.
My hope is that we will be able to reauthorize these programs AND provide adequate levels of funding. With that said, we are days away from a potential Republican government shutdown, and small businesses deserve to know that SBA will be open for business.
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