Column: ‘Business’ as usual’ should not be our goal | Opinion

Column: ‘Business’ as usual’ should not be our goal |  Opinion

Don’t get us wrong: Many of those issues were already present and negatively affecting small businesses well before the onset of COVID-19 in 2020. What we have seen, however, is that many of those issues were greatly exacerbated by the pandemic, leaving some of our state’s small businesses shuttered and many others struggling to survive. COVID-19 has revealed many things about the strengths and weaknesses of our state and nation, and one of the weaknesses we have seen firsthand at the NC Rural Center is the fragile and uncertain economic foundation supporting our state’s small-business owners.

As we find a new “normal,” we cannot go back to “business as usual” in the way we support North Carolina’s small-business owners and entrepreneurs. The choice is ours. We do not have to return to “business as usual” in North Carolina. Instead, we can work together to build something better — and “North Carolina’s New Small Business Plan” outlines how we can do just that, and get more small businesses back on a solid foundation and on the road to brighter, more sustainable future. The North Carolina Small Business Coalition is the way you can help.

For North Carolina, especially rural North Carolina, to thrive after COVID-19, we have to take every effort possible to support our small businesses, their employees and the communities they serve. “North Carolina’s New Small Business Plan” puts forth actionable recommendations to help all of our state’s entrepreneurs and small-business owners have equal access to the capital, resources and tools needed to prosper. Patrick Woodie is president of the N.C. Rural Center. Brandy Bynum Dawson is senior director of policy and advocacy for the center.

The policy recommendations outlined in “North Carolina’s New Small Business Plan,” and championed by the Small Business Coalition, provide a bipartisan roadmap to a stronger, more equitable and more vibrant small-business ecosystem in North Carolina. The plan covers four primary pillars — funding, opportunity, knowledge and support — and was formed hand-in-hand with policymakers, business leaders, leading data and research experts, and by the wisdom and guidance of small-business owners across the state. At our 2021 Rural Summit, we announced the launch of the North Carolina Small Business Coalition and the accompanying policy agenda, “North Carolina’s New Small Business Plan,” drafted by the Small Business Policy Task Force, a statewide group of entrepreneurs, small-business advocates and policymakers all dedicated to empowering North Carolina’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.


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