Note: This article was originally published on the official Office of Advocacy SBA website on November 29, 2022. You can read the original article here.
I recently visited Oklahoma to talk small businesses and share the Office of Advocacy’s work. My visit included stakeholder site visits with the Tulsa Regional Chamber Congressional Forum, and the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME). I also attended “Industry Day” at Rose State College.
Oklahoma’s second-largest city, Tulsa, is in the northeast part of the state. Both Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma have a history of thriving entrepreneurship, economic growth and development. Tulsa, Oklahoma is also recognized for producing industry leaders in construction, healthcare, retail, food service, and other sectors.
Unfortunately, Tulsa shares some of our nation’s historical track record of racial violence, most notably the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. As a result, there have been generational impacts on small business ownership. One of Advocacy’s goals is to engage with underrepresented small entities and create an equitable field for all businesses within the federal rulemaking process. In the words of President Biden, “The Greenwood spirit defines the American spirit—the spirit that gives me so much confidence and hope for the future.” To foster that hope, I spoke with representatives from the Greenwood Women’s Business Center and Chamber of Commerce, USA Black Chamber, Tulsa Economic Development Center, and more. I was joined by Mark Winchester, Acting District Director of the SBA Oklahoma District Office.
Local Tulsa businesses shared their frustrations with the enforcement of existing rules. I spoke with a local Tulsa business with dreams of expanding into manufacturing. They face problems due to the difficulty in remaining compliant with USDA rules around meat inspection. Advocacy is working with this company to learn more details.
Additionally, many women-owned businesses are growing in Oklahoma. Women make up 46.7 percent of workers and own 42.9 percent of businesses. The Greenwood Women’s Business Center shared concerns about acquiring adequate resources and counseling to build large and profitable firms. While many of the firms are young, I explained the federal regulatory process to provide these businesses with a roadmap to maintaining ethical standards, compliance, and protection, and to help ensure a level playing field. The Small Business Administration’s Oklahoma District Office is continuously working with these firms and providing additional information to help each company grow.
In Oklahoma City, the owners of a tribal nation firm shared their concerns about regulatory notifications. They noted that additional time to read and implement such rules and provide public feedback by the deadline would be helpful. I assured them that our office would create a space to provide accessible information promptly. Additionally, I continue to work to connect firms to Advocacy’s Office of Interagency to discuss alternatives and solutions to regulations that may impact their industries.
Many of the small businesses I visited have an admirable organizational culture and work environment. Advocacy appreciates their willingness to share their concerns and I hope to provide additional support to help them in the future. Our office will continue to meet businesses and bring public awareness to small business contributions and concerns, and we look forward to revisiting the state of Oklahoma.