How we can support small businesses in this next phase of our recovery
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Small businesses are the backbone of our communities. That’s not just something that members of Congress say back home, it’s something we see every day, and something that drives conversations in every district across the country.

Over the past year and a half, those small businesses have been through a lot. COVID-19 shutdowns put the dreams and jobs of millions at risk. As I toured small business after small business, I came away understanding that those dreams often hang by a thread. I heard from so many small business owners and employees that their ability to keep their doors open, or even expand into something greater, could be changed by even the smallest bit of help.

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This is truer now than it was even before the pandemic. Even though Congress created programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund — programs that helped millions of businesses and saved so many dreams — the successes of this new normal continue to hang by a thread.

Supporting our small businesses in this next phase of our national recovery doesn’t necessarily mean we need to go big; it means we need to be smart with the programs we have and make sure they’re working for the small businesses that need them.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) Microloan Program doesn’t get the same headlines as the programs we passed in response to the pandemic, but they still get big results for the businesses that rely on them. That’s why making them easier to access and more efficient should be a priority for this Congress as we look to strengthen that economic backbone we often talk about.

One way we can do that is through two bipartisan bills that I’ve been proud to lead and pass through the House. The Microloan Improvement Act would help cut through bureaucratic red tape, make it easier for small businesses to repay the loans, and bring more community-based lenders into the fold to help increase access to the program. This is a bill I was proud to introduce with Rep. Tim BurchettTimothy (Tim) Floyd BurchettGOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto House bill targets US passport backlog Lawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection MORE (R-Tenn.), alongside Reps. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.) and Marie Newman (D-Ill.). The second bill, the Microloan Transparency and Accountability Act, is a smart effort by Rep. Burchett to bring more microloans into our rural areas and make sure we’re using data to keep these programs efficient and valuable uses of taxpayer money.

Both bills are a reminder that even in times marked by partisanship and division, we should all be able to come together to support the entrepreneurial spirit that has defined generations of prosperity in our country.

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As we look to a new era in a post-COVID-19 world, the things we prioritize now will build resilience and strength for the unknown challenges to come. We know that our small businesses need help, even in the best of times. We know that providing the right support means protecting the livelihoods of millions of working families. And we know that we cannot afford to leave them vulnerable or let them down.

When we say our small businesses are the backbone of our economy, we need to use that as a call-to-action, not just a point of agreement. Taking actions like passing the Microloan Improvement Act and the Microloan Transparency and Accountability Act into law would show our small businesses that we not only appreciate them, but we’ll do what it takes to support them and the communities that they truly make special.

Kim represents the 3rd District of New Jersey and is a member of the House Small Business Committee.