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Small Businesses Matter: A Bipartisan Policy Agenda for 2024 and Beyond

There are more than 33 million small businesses across the United States. Supporting their establishment and growth is more than a campaign talking point—it’s an economic priority that requires a comprehensive policy agenda.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the congressional committees with jurisdiction over it are often the focus of much policymaking that addresses the needs and concerns of small businesses. But small businesses are impacted by an array of policies beyond the scope of SBA and those committees.

This report examines four areas of policy that are of significant importance for small businesses, only some of which are within the realm of SBA. Together, they comprise a broad small business agenda developed through the lens of what matters to those businesses and about which bipartisan agreement can be built.

Meeting Small Businesses’ Capital Needs

Accessing capital, whether debt or equity, is among the most common challenges small businesses face. The heterogeneity of small businesses means, however, that an array of policies and programs are needed to help all small businesses access capital. To achieve this, policymakers should pursue policies that:

  • meet capital needs across the business life cycle;
  • close racial, gender, and geographic financing gaps; and
  • responsibly leverage financial innovation to get more capital to more small businesses.

Expanding Procurement Opportunities

Not all small businesses seek to do business with the federal government, but the size of that procurement market—more than $162 billion annually—makes it a significant opportunity for many small businesses. Accordingly, policymakers should:

  • expand small business participation in federal contracting;
  • simplify the procurement process for small businesses; and
  • speed up the delivery of payments.

Encouraging Small Business Growth

Although small businesses differ in their growth ambitions, policymakers have an interest in supporting small businesses’ expansion. Small businesses not only increase economic resilience, they also help strengthen and maintain economic competition. Policymakers can support small business growth through grant programs, tax provisions, and other interventions by:

  • prioritizing predictability;
  • simplifying programs and provisions where possible; and
  • incentivizing business growth through innovation.

Supporting the Small Business Workforce

Hiring and retaining workers is one of the primary ways small businesses grow. Whether it’s helping a small business hire its first employee or supporting the 18% of small businesses that are already employers, policymakers should:

  • improve awareness about existing support to offset the cost of child care and paid leave benefits;
  • reduce complexity associated with the administration of employee benefits;
  • improve technical assistance for small businesses seeking workforce support; and
  • lower health care costs for small employers while maintaining adequate coverage for workers.
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