Small Business Op-Ed: Investing in small business is the key to economic recovery

Regional Planning Council selects Commissioner Levine Cava as chair
Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and they need our help now more than ever.

75% of all small businesses reported they’ve been negatively impacted by the pandemic in a U.S. Census Bureau survey taken earlier this month. Just one third of small businesses are very confident they will fully recover from the downturn, according to the National Small Business Association.

During Small Business Week this year, we must recommit to helping our small businesses get through this crisis intact. Investing in small business relief isn’t just the right thing for families who are struggling – it must be the foundation of how we launch a sustainable recovery.

The numbers are clear.

In Miami-Dade, small businesses employ over 53% of our workforce.

Nearly 40% of all Miami-Dade business owners are Black, Hispanic, or women. And pre-pandemic, women-led small businesses in our county were growing at a faster rate than male-owned firms.

Small business is the engine that makes our community and economy more diverse and helps more families to thrive. Keeping this engine running is how we not only survive this economic crisis, but ensure we don’t undo the many gains made by hardworking entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses and created opportunity within their own communities.

I’m proud that the County Commission has launched programs to help distribute millions of dollars of CARES Act funding directly to small businesses, including the RISE Miami-Dade Fund and Small Business Assistance Forgivable Loans.

Last month my office also awarded Mom and Pop grants to dozens of local businesses in South Dade, so they can keep moving forward through crisis.

Those grants are providing vital relief to businesses like Bell Clothing and Accessories. Owner Michelle Bell hadn’t been able to purchase materials she needs to produce her organic and hand-laced fabrics. The funds enabled her to place an order for new materials to kickstart production and continue filling orders – a small investment that pays dividends over and over again by keeping a successful small business in operation.

As Chair of the South Florida Regional Planning Council (SFRPC), I was proud to announce the launch of a $5.9 million Business Revolving Loan Fund program in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce. The fund – using CARES Act dollars to provide loans ranging from $25,000 to $500,000 – offers South Florida’s entrepreneurs a lifeline and supports the rebuilding of our regional economy.

We also know that the impacts of the pandemic and the economic crisis are not felt equally across all communities. Minority-owned businesses have struggled to access Paycheck Protection Program funds, with only 12% of those who applied reporting receiving loans compared to nearly 40% of small business overall.

As we look to our recovery in the months ahead, we need to double down on programs that uplift minority-led businesses. In District 8, we invest in women and minority-owned businesses through our incubator Accelerate South Dade, the first of its kind anywhere in the county. The incubator provides access to coaching, workspace, and capital to help level the playing field for more businesses to succeed.

Now, the pandemic has dealt so many businesses a blow they never expected and couldn’t have planned for. We owe it to our entrepreneurs to put the same dedication and ingenuity that they bring to work every day into helping them bounce back, because our economy only thrives when small businesses succeed.

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