Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. The phrase might sound cliché at this point, but it’s borne out by the facts. According to the Small Business Administration, there are 3.1 million small businesses operating across the Lone Star State, accounting for a staggering 99.8% of all Texas-based businesses. An astounding 4.9 million Texans are employed by a small business.
At the City of Dallas Small Business Center we are committed to continuing this legacy of strong and successful Texas small businesses, strengthening the Dallas economy and providing opportunities to our local workforce. By providing guidance and resources, we want to help ensure that Dallas entrepreneurs can thrive in an inclusive business environment.
A resource that we know is critical for small businesses in today’s day and age are the cutting-edge digital tools that were once available only to large corporations. In fact, a recent survey found that 74% of small businesses that incorporated six or more technology platforms hired more workers than their peers. Additionally, 84% of these same businesses saw an increase in profits, while 82% increased their sales.
These digital tools afford small business owners the opportunity to save time and resources, while also making their day-to-day operations more efficient. For instance, an entrepreneur can use online software to find and hire qualified workers in an increasingly tight labor market. A small manufacturer can use digital tools to identify and negotiate with specialized vendors spanning the country or the globe. An HR professional can use digital tools to streamline payroll and other time-consuming tasks.
We know that consumers in today’s marketplace are looking for businesses with an online presence and efficient digital systems. The adoption of digital tools can ensure our small businesses are able to remain competitive on the global stage. But we also know that small businesses are often strapped for capital and cannot always adopt these tools, even if they want to.
Fortunately, a bipartisan group of senators in Washington recently introduced the Small Business Technological Advancement Act. This legislation would update existing law and clarify that Small Business Administration loans under the 7(a) program can be used to finance the adoption of innovative digital tools at no additional cost to the federal government. Currently, even the SBA admits to not know if it’s OK to use 7(a) loans to finance digital tools. This bill would eliminate that uncertainty and ensure American small businesses have clear guidance on financing digital solutions.
Right now, Congress is dealing with competing priorities. This legislation could be an easy, bipartisan win-win and is simply not getting enough attention — especially in the House of Representatives. With this legislation, small businesses can adopt the tools they need in a rapidly changing economy. Workers benefit because small businesses will add more good-paying jobs. Consumers can continue to patron their favorite Texas establishments.
The Texas congressional delegation has long supported small business interests in our state. We would urge Rep. Roger Williams, R-Fort Worth, a small business owner himself and chairman of the House Small Business Committee, and the other members of the Texas delegation to strongly consider this legislation as Congress returns to Washington in the fall.
Ensuring that our local small businesses can compete and win is hardly a partisan issue. At the SBC, we are dedicated to finding smart and effective solutions to the challenges that our local entrepreneurs face. The bill could be one of those solutions for small businesses in Dallas and all across Texas.
Joyce Williams is the director of the Small Business Center for the city of Dallas, an initiative to serve as a hub for promoting business diversity, workforce development and entrepreneurship. Prior to joining the SBC, Williams served as the associate vice chancellor of Workforce and Community Initiatives for the Dallas County Community College District. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.
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