Note: This article was originally published on the official Office of Advocacy SBA website on January 10, 2023. You can read the original article here.
For many small businesses, 2022 was a year of reflection. While many small businesses made various adjustments due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States experienced a dramatic increase in the number of entrepreneurs. As Region 6 Advocate, I met with some of these small businesses at the end of 2022 to help them kick off a successful 2023.
On December 5, 2022, I joined Regional Administrator Edward “Ted” James and the New Mexico District Staff in El Paso, Texas. Together, we joined the co-owners of L&J Cafe for a site visit to their restaurant. The owners shared the economic challenges they experienced during the pandemic. They highlighted the assistance provided to them through the SBA, such as the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program, and more.
During my visit, I shared a brief overview of the Office of Advocacy, the regulation process, and a few proposed regulations. I spoke with Vanessa Duran, co-owner of L&J Cafe, and discussed two proposed rules, including NLRB’s joint employer rule and DOL’s employee and independent contractor rule. We are committed to reconnecting in 2023 to discuss Advocacy resources further.
I was also warmly welcomed by the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO, Cindy Ramos-Davidson. Davidson and I shared partnership ideas and collaboration opportunities between Advocacy and the Chamber. These included in-person seminars and workshops for minority-owned businesses. She is also actively working with Chamber members to submit comment letters on proposed rules and regulations.
As I continued my visit, I spoke one-on-one with 8(a) businesses unfamiliar with Advocacy’s role in Washington, DC. Frank Spencer III, President of Aztec Contractors, was excited to learn more about proposed rules and the Office of Economic Research to help further expand contracting opportunities. He also shared an interest in distributing Advocacy information to ensure that his network is aware of more resources and roundtable events.
Later in December, I visited Albuquerque, where I attended the “BuyBlack Holiday Market and Conference” hosted by the African American Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. Here, I met with over fifty vendors. The African American Chamber is relatively new and is still working on increasing membership, furthering Advocacy’s goals of engaging with underrepresented small business owners.
As we move into 2023, I see an even greater opportunity for Advocacy to broaden its reach and provide resources and services to rural communities and underrepresented areas. I am eager to continue working in Region 6 with more small business constituents, sharing resources, and considering more solutions to the regulatory burdens they face.