Economic conditions have changed a lot since the pandemic began nearly two years ago, especially in Arizona, which has seen strong job growth, strong retail sales, and more people moving there.
Federal government outreach programs are designed to help business owners and entrepreneurs find the help they need and make important connections. The number of small businesses in the state is about 611,000, but many of them are still having problems.
The new Community Navigator program from the U.S. Small Business Administration is open to any small business, but it has a special focus on businesses in rural areas, run by women, veterans, or people from racial or ethnic minorities, some of whom don’t speak English very well. The program is called “Community Navigator.” When the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was passed, it was set up.
Paycheck Protection Program: “If you run a big business, you have the money to figure this out,” said US Sen. Mark Kelly, when he made stops in Mesa and Phoenix on Friday to talk about the new program.
“But it was clear that the relief wasn’t reaching many of these (smaller) businesses, which are often the ones that need the most help.”
Kelly pushed for programs last March that would make people more aware of and use SBA relief programs. A business owner in an outlying area has told him that he or she has had trouble making contacts or applying for SBA loans because their phone calls or internet service went down while they were doing so.
It’s called the Community Navigator program, and it’s meant to help business owners deal with a wide range of issues, from applying for grants and loans to getting help with contracts, marketing, business development, and other things. Even though only about 1% of small businesses in Arizona sell their products outside of the United States, there is help for them.
In Arizona, the International Rescue Committee, the National Urban League, and the Local Initiatives Support Corp. are three nonprofit groups that have strong ties to the community.
Isabella Casillas Guzman, the head of the SBA, talks with Derek Robinson, owner of Derek Sips, and Drew Shaw, founder of Voyce Threads, outside Francis Boutique on Friday, January 7, 2022, in Phoenix. During his trip to Valley businesses, Casillas Guzman was meeting with business owners who came from a poor background to learn more about their businesses.
SBA has had a mixed record.
When Kelly and Guzman came to see Moreno, he said he didn’t find the loan application process hard.
If you own a business in Phoenix, Jade Noble says you might not have been able to get the help you needed from the SBA. She and her business partners were able to buy one of the businesses they were running and keep both open. She also let Kelly and Guzman come over to her house.
Guzman said that the Community Navigator program was set up to help more owners, especially those who don’t speak English very well, figure out how to use the resources available through the agency.
The pilot program started last month and will run through November 2023 at a cost to the government of about $100 million over that time, she said. The government will have to pay for that.
The scope of small businesses in the state of Arizona
Kelly said that small businesses were the heart of Arizona’s economy. There were 611,000 businesses like this in Arizona, and they hired 42.9 percent of the state’s private workforce, according to the SBA and the Census Bureau. Nationally, there were 32.5 million small businesses that hired 46.8% of the country’s private workers.
More than 45 percent of small business owners in Arizona are women. Eight percent of them are veterans, 19 percent are Latinos, and almost 11 percent are from racial minority groups. A lot of the people who work at these businesses in Arizona are women, some are veterans, a lot are Latinos, and a lot of them are from minority groups.