For small businesses, the crisis presents an opportunity: Louis DeCuzzi

BRUNSWICK, Ohio – As a small business owner in Northeast Ohio, I understand that every crisis brings opportunity. After overcoming the challenges of the past two years, small business owners came away with clear ideas about what is needed to support small businesses in the future. We also realized the true meaning of community, coming together to navigate headwinds.

According to the United States Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses account for 99% of all American businesses. We are the backbone of our country’s economy – accounting for 65.1% of net new job creation since 2000.

I’m proud to join more than 2,500 small business owners — including nearly 150 from Ohio — who are bringing energy and strength to Washington, DC this week for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit. In addition to hearing from high-level business leaders, we will meet with members of Congress to advocate for policies that reflect the modern economy in which we operate.

At the top of our political agenda is a call to modernize the SBA, which has not been reauthorized since 2000. I don’t need to tell you how business practice has transformed over the past 22 years. The SBA’s mission and policies should reflect these changes.

The truth is, small business owners are always looking to innovate. Look no further than apps for starting new businesses last year. While we were still in the throes of the pandemic, applications reached a record 5.4 million nationwide — a 53% jump from the days before the 2019 shutdown.

I say this with optimism, even as the headwinds of inflation, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages continue to shake our balance and complicate our balance sheets. A new investigation graduates of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses business training program found that while a majority of owners (65%) remain optimistic, these challenges continue to take their toll.

For example, in this same survey, 78% of small business owners said the economy had deteriorated over the past three months, and 88% of small business owners said that broader economic trends – like inflation and supply chain issues – had a negative impact on their business.

In my business, I have made several adjustments to be competitive during the pandemic. As a manufacturer of electric off-road vehicles, having to work remotely for a period of time and the closure of some of our suppliers has obviously taken a toll on our business. Rather than closing, we planned ahead and took deposits for later delivery.

Louis DeCuzzi is the president of DRR USA, a small woman-owned company based in Brunswick, Ohio, which manufactures electric mountain bikes.

We were able to plan ahead and sustain our business thanks in large part to the support of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses. Our company, like the majority of small business owners I know, was unable to access initial PPP loans because we did not have a relationship with a major bank. Fortunately, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses set up a program with smaller banks that eventually allowed us to access PPP grants. It relieved payroll stress even when we had no sales, allowed us to look ahead during tough times, and kept us going.

Collectively, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses graduates represent more than $17 billion in revenue and 245,000 jobs. As we travel to Washington, we hope policymakers will heed our call to revitalize the SBA to access the capital needed to spur our growth, to help our employees obtain safe and affordable child care, and to ensure that the government honors its promises to open up its federal contracting opportunities to more small businesses owned by women and minorities.

Join us in calling on Congress to use this crisis as an opportunity to help small businesses chart a successful path to near-term economic recovery and beyond.

Louis DeCuzzi is the president of DRR USA, a small woman-owned company based in Brunswick, Ohio, which manufactures electric mountain bikes.

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