Q&A: Small Business Week

Q: Why celebrate Small Business Week?

A: The locomotive for the U.S. economy — small businesses — continues to move full steam ahead during the first two years of the Trump administration. The roaring U.S. economy opened the first quarter of the year with 3.2 percent growth, signaling business confidence is booming on Main Streets across America. Here in Iowa, small businesses added 9,780 net new jobs in the most recent study by the Small Business Administration (SBA). With 270,484 small businesses open for business in Iowa, this sector of the state’s economy supports paychecks, household income and civic vitality and serves as the social and economic backbone for many local neighborhoods and communities. According to the SBA, Iowa’s small businesses employ 48.1 percent of the private workforce. The top three industries are health care and social assistance; accommodation and food services; and, manufacturing. These businesses are a valuable employer and contributor to the local tax base. The owners and their employees so often serve as civic leaders and volunteers in schools, libraries, fire departments, youth sports and charity events that enrich the vibrancy and identity of hometown communities. As the Trump tax cuts and regulatory relief continue to foster economic growth, small businesses are driving low unemployment across the state.

For the last 38 years, I have made at least one visit every year in each of Iowa’s 99 counties to have dialogue with Iowans and listen to their ideas and concerns. Many of my county meetings throughout the year are held in small businesses, where I’m typically invited to tour the operations and have a Q & A with the employees. I appreciate this feedback and look forward to finishing my 39th year of county meetings in 2019.

Since 1963, the SBA has issued an annual award to recognize outstanding small business leaders in every state. The 2019 “Iowa Small Business Person of the Year” will be awarded to Brad and Angie Barber, owners of Cabin Coffee in Clear Lake, Iowa, during National Small Business Week in Washington, D.C. The idea for their business percolated in 2001. A year later, they opened their coffee shop. Fast forward to 2019, this start-up that first opened its doors with no employees has grown to a workforce of 140 with two locations in Iowa and 15 franchises throughout the United States. I congratulate the Barbers for their hard-earned achievements. Their success provides testimony to our system of free enterprise, the crown jewel of the American Dream. From one generation to the next, it beckons every American to dream big, take risks and climb the ladder of opportunity to achieve prosperity. So many small business owners and entrepreneurs start out with an idea and pour as much sweat and financial equity as they can muster to launch and open up for business. I salute small business owners across our state and encourage Iowans to visit, shop and do business in their hometown store fronts.

Q: What is SBDC Iowa?

A: This statewide network is an affiliate of America’s SBDC, a national association of Small Business Development Centers. It operates 15 locations across Iowa and is the only nationally-accredited entrepreneurial development program in the state. It is a public-private partnership launched in 1981 with funding provided through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the state of Iowa. Its regional business assistance centers are hosted by Iowa’s three regent universities, 10 community colleges and one regional economic development entity. SBDC Iowa provides training opportunities and confidential, personalized counseling services to entrepreneurs and existing businesses. Consultations and workshops are designed to empower individuals with comprehensive information services and tools to help Iowans start or grow their business. Professional advisors offer assistance for Iowans in all 99 counties and can provide information about raising capital, cybersecurity, business strategy, cash flow, how to hire and expand a business, and more. In the last five years, SBDC Iowa has worked with nearly 17,000 clients and helped start 1,354 new businesses in the state. Iowans who have been thinking about opening a business can check out its workshops here. For those who have been incubating an idea to someday launch a business, why not take the plunge during Small Business Week? Learn how SBDC can help here.

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The 56th annual “National Small Business Week” will be observed May 5–11, 2019 to recognize and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and economic and social contributions of small businesses across the United States.