President Trump’s commitment to improving the economy and the engine that drives it – small businesses – has been undeterred. And, when he approved the federal government’s fiscal year budget in late December, he secured the future of America’s small businesses and our nation’s ability to recover after disasters with funding for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Prior to this booming economic era, our small businesses were struggling and trying to survive from the Great Recession. In the true spirit of the American Dream, though, they reshaped, innovated and persevered. Their contributions have not gone unnoticed and now, with business optimism and confidence remaining historically high, they’re poised for growth and expansion. Under this Administration and with the federal government’s strong support for them, including SBA’s, it will be that much easier.

In this region in FY 19, SBA partners advised more than 80,000 small business owners and the SBA supported nearly $5.6 billion in loans, including $608 million here in Indiana. Those billions of dollars and hours of counseling are supporting small business growth and expansion, creating jobs, higher wages and continued innovation right here in the Great Lakes region. With the budget approval, Congress and President Trump acknowledged investments in SBA’s programs like these, including training, loan guarantees, and assistance with growth via export and contracting opportunities, will continue to provide a solid return for our economy. The additional support for entrepreneurial development and increased funds for the microloan program, which plays an important role in distressed communities where access to conventional lending remains a challenge, will further help startups and underserved markets, including women, minorities and veterans.

Beyond SBA’s budget approval, President Trump’s nomination for SBA’s 26th Administrator was confirmed by the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate with overwhelmingly bipartisan support on December 19, 2019, and January 7, 2020, respectively. SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza began her service on January 14, 2020, and became the highest-ranking Latina in the federal government with this Cabinet-level position.

Her confirmation as SBA’s Administrator reinforces President Trump’s commitment to the country’s economic prosperity and the American Dream. Her federal experience, including as the former U.S. Treasurer and service at the SBA during the Bush Administration, and first-hand knowledge of the challenges entrepreneurs face will highly benefit our nation’s small business owners. Administrator Carranza’s roots here in the Great Lakes region and her grit, determination and tenacity are an ideal leadership foundation from which to support America’s job creators and innovators.

President Trump also put forth efforts to help small businesses with retirement benefits. The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Security (SECURE) Act closed the retirement gap for the approximately 50% of our nation’s workers – those employed by small businesses. It allows small businesses to band together to offer retirement plans for their employees, and benefit from economies of scale and tax incentives to increase retirement security for American workers.

And, Congress’ recent approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which includes specific protections for small- and medium-sized businesses, sets the stage for even more small business growth. The USMCA follows on President Trump’s priority to put America first and its strong protections specific to small businesses – job creators that represent over 99% of U.S. businesses – level the playing field and unlock opportunities for those that have yet to tap foreign markets. In FY 19, the SBA helped approximately 900 small businesses that export by backing more than $1 billion in loans to them. Via SBA’s assistance, small businesses can more easily find their next customers in Canada and Mexico and every corner of the world.

As we continue into 2020, I encourage you to celebrate our country’s rise from recession to historic economic growth. Also, join me in thanking the small business owners who, through their determination, will continue to carry our country forward with job creation, innovation and perseverance into a new roaring twenties economic era.

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