If you own a small business as I do, you’re probably starting to feel a little nervous about the 33 days (and counting) of the government shutdown. Recently, I had the pleasure of getting an exclusive interview with Representative Nydia Velazquez. I was able to pick her brain about both her vision for small business and how she feels about this shutdown.

Representative Nydia Velazquez represents New York’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.  She is also the Chairwoman of the Committee on Small Business so she has a unique perspective on how this shutdown will impact businesses like mine and yours.
This wasn’t my first brush with Congress. I actually testified as an expert witness in 2016! Want to check it out? You can watch it here. 

 

1. First things first, what is your vision for small business in 2019

First off, we must end the government shutdown that has caused the Small Business Administration (SBA) to cease its core lending and contract-assistance programs.

Each day the shutdown continues, entrepreneurs lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars in the affordable capital they need to grow their business and create new jobs.

In the House, we have passed legislation to reopen the government by appropriating funding to agencies like SBA. I encourage President Trump to join Democrats and put our small business sector back to work.

Looking ahead more broadly to 2019, I will continue working to strengthen SBA’s flagship programs that help entrepreneurs secure capital, enter federal contracts, and recover after a disaster. Just weeks into the new Congressional legislative session, our committee has already passed several bipartisan reforms that take steps to achieve these goals. I was proud to author two of these bills, the Clarity on Small Business Participation in Category Management Act and the Incentivizing Fairness in Subcontracting Act, both of which strengthen protections and opportunities for small firms that do business with the federal government.

Finally, we must tackle the barriers that keep entrepreneurs from following their dreams of starting a business. To do this, the federal government should invest in telecommunications and rural broadband access, find solutions to the student debt crisis, expand health care, push back against restrictive immigration policies, and simplify the tax code to truly benefit small firms.

2. What have you learned in your role as a committee member?

Back in 2006 when I first took the Committee’s gavel, I was the first Hispanic woman to Chair a full committee in the House. As the most senior Democrat on the Committee, I have learned the value in reaching across the aisle to achieve bipartisan solutions that benefit small firms across this country. I am proud that our Committee has a strong track record of success and I look forward to continuing this work as we tackle the challenges facing small businesses today.

3. What’s your advice for small businesses who are starting and for those who are growing and scaling?

I urge anyone with the dream of starting a new business or growing a current one to utilize the services provided by the SBA.

In every state and the territories, the SBA works with a number of local partners to connect entrepreneurs with mentorship, training, and other resources crucial to starting a business.

(Map of SBA resources)  

4. How can free enterprise blend with doing good to others who are not fortunate?

One of the most valuable benefits of encouraging the growth of Main Street businesses is they often become a gathering place for members of a community. By strengthening community relations, it is not uncommon for these businesses to become a force for giving back. Whether by organizing charity drives, sponsoring the local recreational baseball team, or donating their items, countless small businesses are deeply invested in strengthening their communities.

5. What is your policy in regard to taxation (higher? lower?) and in regard to capitalism vs. a more socialist economy?

When it comes to taxes, Main Street businesses deserve meaningful tax reform that will simplify the tax code and increase compliance assistance.

Just a few days ago, I joined my colleague on the Committee, Ranking Member Steve Chabot from Ohio in re-introducing the Small Business Owners’ Tax Simplification Act. This bill works to meet the needs of workers in the sharing economy in part by increasing tax compliance assistance for micro-entrepreneurs. While there is much more that needs to be done, this bill is a productive step in the right direction.

6. What can business owners do for their country?

Small businesses are the backbone of America’s economy, employing over half of all private sector employees and generating two-thirds of net new jobs.

Particularly in economically distressed areas, small business owners can help to revitalize entire communities. Thus, encouraging small business growth is a win-win for local communities and our national economy.

Photo of Representative Nydia Velazquez via New York Latin Culture Magazine.