The time has come for another Small Business Update from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here on ASBN. Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy, joins Jim Fitzpatrick to discuss the latest political developments and government programs affecting American entrepreneurs.
The economy remains a chief concern for small business owners as they look for signs of recovery and stability. For those hoping for good news, Sullivan has an important development to share. In June, the Federal Reserve announced it would be putting interest rate hikes on hold after observing slight improvements in inflation. Although there is no guarantee that rates will come down in the near future, entrepreneurs who have struggled to access capital since the COVID pandemic can breathe “a sigh of relief.”
However, while this is a positive indication that the Fed’s disinflationary measures are becoming less necessary, Sullivan urges caution, noting that it may take some time for small business owners to feel the effects. Until creditors know for certain the direction the U.S. economy is taking, entrepreneurs are likely to find loan access restricted. “We would like to think that the concern over inflation will eventually go down too,” he explains. “We’re just not there yet.”
This caveat does not mean that entrepreneurs should feel any less confident about their future in the U.S. economy. In fact, Sullivan notes that more small businesses were opened between 2020 and 2023 than at any period in the past. The growth of the sector is helping to solve another issue plaguing the U.S. economy: employment.
“The job market right now is extremely competitive,” comments Sullivan, especially between small businesses. Because of the challenges companies are facing in their efforts to fill positions, he explains that the Chamber of Commerce is working closely with Congress on strategies to bring more job-seekers to the market. Sullivan notes the federal government is currently considering ways to open the doors for more legal immigration, a move which he notes would stimulate wage growth in the U.S.
Presently, the Chamber of Commerce is working on three projects to help entrepreneurs find success. First, Sullivan notes that the organization’s Prompt Pay Pledge is attracting more signatures. The program pushes larger companies to commit to paying their small business vendors and suppliers in a timely manner. Second, the Chamber is urging entrepreneurs to apply for America’s Top Small Business Award, recognizing the best small business in the U.S. with a $25,000 grant, before the approaching deadline. Participants have until Friday, July 7 to submit their nominations. Finally, Sullivan explains that the Chamber is successfully rallying support for the Prove It Act, a bill authored by Iowa Senator Joni Ernst limiting the federal government’s power to regulate without first considering the needs of small businesses. He notes that the policy will “make sure that [the law’s] approach, when it comes to the federal government’s interaction with small business, makes sense.”