Washington State of Play – January 2022
To kick off the year, SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman shared plans to elevate the Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) to report to the Office of the Administrator. Among others, the Administrator, Assistant Administrator of OWBO, Natalie Cofield, and AWBC CEO Corinne Hodges provided supportive statements on the restructuring in a press release released last week underscoring the importance of women entrepreneurship and the Women’s Business Center (WBC) network. Read the press release in full here.
The announcement follows the White House release of the National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, focused on priorities and objectives for women equality. Jennifer Klein, Deputy Assistant to the President and Co-Chair/ Executive Director of the White House Gender Policy Council also shared excitement working alongside OWBO in bolstering women opportunities.
Status of Build Back Better
Given this is the first week that both Chambers have been in session since mid-December, Congress has much to do before they reconsider the fate of the BBBA. As the focus turns to issues including voting rights, the filibuster, leadership structures for 2023, funding stopgap measures, and the January 6 investigation, the potential for an enacted BBBA continues to slip. Later this week, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is set to release the December Inflation Report, which findings could be critical for the support of moderate Senators regarding BBBA.
The government-funded continuing resolution (CR) running out in 39 days and no progress yet made on an omnibus funding package, we expect Congress to either pass another CR, negotiate the various bills, or wrap some into a larger funding package before February 18. With Congress on the funding clock, this is a key priority to kick off 2022.
Small Business Funding through SSBCI
While lawmakers grapple with the possibilities of another COVID relief package targeted towards small businesses, leftover funds from the American Rescue Plan Act will be put to work through the State Small Business Credit Initiative Program. Here are the details:
- $10 billion will be given to provide additional capital to small businesses in disadvantaged communities
- $1.5 billion will be set aside for businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people
- $500 million will be set aside for businesses with less than 10 employees
- Disbursements will begin in the first quarter of 2022
- States and local entities may shape the program based on local needs
Countdown of Key Dates
- The Federal Government runs out of funding: 39 Days
- The 2022 Midterm Elections: 301 Days
AWBC 2022 Priorities
AWBC continues to advocate for the following priorities:
- Fully fund the Women’s Business Center (WBC) program at $30 million in core funding.
- Re-authorize the program through legislation like the Women’s Business Centers Improvements Act of 2019 (H.R. 4405) from the 116th Congress, which would establish a structured accreditation process and increase individual grant level from $150,000 to $300,000.
- Ensure WBCs are partners of choice for engaging women business owners in any COVID-related package.
By Ashlyn Roberts