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In Congress, I have the privilege of sitting on the House Committee on Small Business, the committee tasked with advocating for protections and smart government policies for the country’s small businesses.

The work we do on the committee is critical, because the work small businesses do every day is critical to the economic prosperity of America.

The overwhelming majority of American businesses are small businesses (99.7 percent, to be exact).

These businesses employ 56.8 million workers, 48 percent of the nation’s private-sector workforce.

In New Jersey, there are over 820,000 small businesses, and nearly 1.8 million small business employees. That is nearly 52 percent of the state’s private sector workforce. 

Small businesses are essential to the American economy and its success in the interconnected global economy of today, boosting U.S. exports and helping to close our trade gap. They lead our nation in job growth, and are at the forefront of innovation--the cornerstone of economic growth and competitiveness.

The need to create more opportunities for America’s small businesses to innovate, expand, and thrive is clear.

That is the ongoing goal of the Small Business Committee, which recently held a hearing to glean insights from entrepreneurial experts about a variety of topics, from securing venture capital to preparing for economic roadblocks.

There were several takeaways from this hearing.

Investing in small business owners is integral to their success. In his testimony, Smart Hustle Magazine editor and New Jersey resident Ramon Ray said of small business education, “The more we invest in the education of small business owners the more we ensure businesses succeed.” Business owners have to work hard, but they also have to work smart. They need to make informed decisions about topics as varied as purchases and investments and health coverage. In Ray’s words, it’s the business owners “who are educated, who have SMART HUSTLE, who succeed.” We need to make sure that business owners are aware of and can easily access educational resources that can be used to achieve their goals.

There is a clear and growing need to facilitate more growth of women- and minority-owned small businesses. Recent census data shows African American and Hispanic businesses are growing at a faster pace than the national average. However, these minority-owned businesses tend to be smaller in size and scale, and they often don’t have the capacity to succeed. That is why I have called on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to require financial institutions to collect and report data on lending to small, women, and minority-owned businesses. Transparency in small business lending data is the key to understanding the credit needs of minority-owned small businesses.

We need to do more to provide business opportunities to young entrepreneurs. Other countries, like Chile, have launched programs to incentivize young, early-stage entrepreneurs to locate and grow their businesses in those respective countries. They recognize the value in nurturing entrepreneurship among their country’s youth, and they empower their young people to lead the next generation of innovators and risk takers. The U.S. can’t fall behind when it comes to fostering entrepreneurial success. In her testimony to the Small Business Committee, entrepreneur and columnist Melinda Emerson explained that “We need to start teaching entrepreneurship education starting in kindergarten.” This would empower youth to unleash their creativity in starting small businesses and creating jobs for American workers.

Entrepreneurship is one of the most viable career and economic growth opportunities, and this pathway should be supported in job creation efforts in all sectors of society.

Entrepreneurial spirit has made our nation strong, and it will continue to do so as long as we enable entrepreneurs to work their magic.