WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday (April11), U.S. Rep. Troy A. Carter, Sr. (D-LA) and U.S. Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS) introduced the bipartisan Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act (RSLBA) in the House of Representatives. This bill would create a new program to infuse resources into national networks of local business district entities that support place-based entrepreneurship activities.
“Small businesses are the heartbeat of our economy and this bill is an innovative way to grow capacity in our business districts and create more equitable economic opportunities and outcomes in Louisiana and nationwide,” said Carter. “The passage of this legislation would increase needed resources for many organizations in my district that conduct critical, on-the-ground work to uplift small, local businesses. I will continue to advocate for the RSLBA’s inclusion in the upcoming reauthorization (of the Economic Development Administration or EDA) so we can further amplify the great work that local organizations do for small businesses in communities across America.”
To be sure, the importance of small businesses to the nation’s economy cannot be overstated. Small businesses account for over 65 percent of all new jobs created over the past 20 years in the United States. A companion bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.
The proposed legislation offers an opportunity to expand inclusive access to EDA resources by leveraging the expertise of national nonprofit partners with deep connections to small businesses to provide on-the-ground economic assistance to our nation’s downtowns.
Leaders of local organizations like the Sankofa Community Development Corporation are hopeful about the proposed legislation’s impact on their efforts and the larger community.
“Sankofa Community Development Corporation is excited about how the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act will offer opportunities to strengthen economic development initiatives in under-resourced and marginalized communities,” says Rashida Ferdinand, Sankofa’s founder and CEO. “We initiated the Lower Ninth Ward Main Street project in alliance with a network of organizations, community stakeholders, and local businesses. We look forward to seeing its positive impact on the growth of small businesses and revitalization of our historic commercial corridor.”
In fact, the bill has been endorsed by a wide variety of national, Louisiana, and Mississippi-based organizations.
“The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. is pleased to endorse the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act, which aims to expand opportunities for organizations in our communities to reach small, Black businesses in underserved business districts,” said Ron Busby Sr., President and CEO, United States Black Chambers The new grant program would enable nonprofits who serve Black business districts to direct funding to communities where it is needed most, spurring economic opportunity and growth for future generations. We look forward to continuing this work with Representative Troy Carter’s office to provide more ways for Black businesses to grow and invest in their communities.”
National supporters for the Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act also include the United States Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, the National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders, the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations, the Council of Development Finance Agencies, Co.Starters, and Forward Cities.