WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a field hearing last week in Berlin, Maryland to address small business resiliency, which is the ability to bounce back after unexpected events. Mayor Zack Tyndall (Berlin, Md.) hosted the hearing at Berlin town hall, which Chair Cardin presided along with Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Andy Harris (MD-01). Video of the field hearing can be seen here.
Lawmakers and witnesses focused on the challenges that rural communities face whose businesses depend on the outdoor economy. They spoke on the tools and resources entrepreneurs need to build long-term resilience and the steps that the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Congress can take to help support this growth. With a focus on the Eastern Shore, the field hearing provided an opportunity to engage directly with a Maryland community that is central to the state’s identity but faces significant environmental and economic challenges.
“Thanks to the wonderful hospitality of Mayor Zack Tyndall and the town of Berlin, we had the honor of hearing about the challenges that small businesses on the eastern shore face. Some of those challenges include the growth of the blue catfish population; lack of access to capital for small business owners; and the need to help prepare our small businesses for tough times,” said Chair Cardin. “Conversations, like the ones we had, will help us identify solutions to help rural communities across the country facing similar issues. The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee is laser focused on legislating permanent, bipartisan solutions that will help smaller, small businesses adapt to changing environments.”
Witnesses provided several recommendations for improving small business resilience. Some are detailed below:
- Focus on preparing for disasters and emergencies as opposed to only focusing on recovery.
- Encourage partnerships between federal and state governments to allow for funding and loan program flexibility.
- Focus on creating specific branding for products to develop the identity of the product and increase market recognition.
- Provide economic development resources and capital access specifically designed to address the challenges that rural communities experience.
- Turn problems into opportunities for growth by utilizing pre-existing resources as avenues to strategic solutions.
- Reward pioneering small businesses and encourage growth of new industries.