For small businesses, crisis presents opportunity: Louis DeCuzzi


BRUNSWICK, Ohio — As a small business owner in Northeast Ohio, I understand that every crisis offers opportunity. After staring down the challenges of the past two years, small business owners have come away with clear ideas about what is needed to support small businesses going forward. We have also realized the true meaning of community, coming together to navigate headwinds.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses make up 99% of all U.S. businesses. We are the backbone of our nation’s economy – accounting for 65.1% of net new job creation since 2000.

I am proud to be joining more than 2,500 small business owners – including nearly 150 from Ohio – who are bringing energy and strength to Washington, D.C. this week for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit. In addition to hearing from top business leaders, we will meet with members of Congress to advocate for policies that reflect the modern economy in which we operate.

Topping our policy agenda is a call to modernize the SBA, which has not been reauthorized since 2000. I don’t have to tell you how doing business has transformed over the past 22 years. The SBA’s mission and policies should reflect those changes.

The truth is that small business owners are always looking to innovate. Look no further than applications to start new businesses last year. While we were still in the throes of the pandemic, applications soared to a record 5.4 million nationally — a 53% jump from the pre-shutdown days of 2019.

I say this with optimism, even as the stiff headwinds of inflation, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages continue to rattle our equilibrium and complicate our balance sheets. A new survey of graduates of Goldman Sachs’ business education program, 10,000 Small Businesses, found that, while a majority of owners (65%) remain optimistic, these challenges continue to take their toll.

For example, in that same survey, 78% of small business owners said the economy has gotten worse over the past three months, and 88% of small business owners said that broader economic trends – like inflation and supply chain issues – are negatively impacting their business.

At my business, I made several adjustments to compete through the pandemic. As a manufacturer of electric all-terrain vehicles, having to go fully remote for a period of time and the shutdown of some of our suppliers obviously threw a wrench in our business. Rather than shut down, we planned ahead and took deposits for later delivery.

Louis DeCuzzi

Louis DeCuzzi is the president of DRR USA, a woman-owned small business based in Brunswick, Ohio that manufactures electric ATVs.

We were able to plan ahead and maintain our business thanks in large part to Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses support. Our business, like the majority of small business owners I know, could not access the initial PPP loans because we did not have a relationship with a larger bank. Fortunately, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses put together a program with smaller banks that eventually allowed us to access PPP grants. This relieved the stress of making payroll even when we had zero sales, allowed us to look ahead during hard times, and kept us alive.

Collectively, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses graduates represent over $17 billion in revenue and 245,000 jobs. As we travel to Washington, we’re hopeful policymakers will hear our call to revitalize the SBA to access capital needed to drive our growth, to assist our employees in obtaining safe and affordable child care, and to make sure the government is living up to its promises of opening its federal contracting opportunities to more women- and minority-owned small businesses.

Join us in calling on Congress to use this crisis as an opportunity to help small businesses chart a successful path to economic recovery in the short term and beyond.

Louis DeCuzzi is the president of DRR USA, a woman-owned small business based in Brunswick, Ohio that manufactures electric ATVs.

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