Harris calling for more aid for small businesses, removal of barriers to success

Vice President Harris is advocating for a renewed focus on government help for minority and women-owned small businesses following the coronavirus pandemic. 

"This is a familiar story. Traditional banks and venture capital firms have not always seen the vision of women entrepreneurs and those of color," Harris wrote in Forbes on Tuesday. "Community lenders, on the other hand, were founded to see that vision. Community lenders understand the value in providing access to capital in communities of color and low-income communities—and because they do, they add value to those communities and our country." 

Harris, a former senator from California, compared the economic hit the U.S. economy took during the coronavirus pandemic to the Loma Prieta earthquake that hit the Bay Area and knocked down portions of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in 1989. 

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"Leaders then had a choice — to restore the bridge to how it was, or to reevaluate and strengthen its support system to withstand future shocks. They chose the latter," she said. "As we emerge from the pandemic, our nation has the same choice to make — for our economy and for our businesses, specifically small businesses and start-ups." 

The pandemic "exposed the flaws and the fissures" in the U.S. economy, Harris wrote, saying that nearly 1 in 3 small businesses have been forced to close. 

Bouncing back from the coronavirus pandemic will be especially difficult for female entrepreneurs and small business owners of color. 

In her entry for Forbes, the vice president told the story of Lorena Cantarovici, who owns an artisan empanada business in Colorado. Cantarovici was initially told by lenders she was “not bankable," but was able to open several locations and grow her business. 

"Today, our nation must reimagine our economy, so that every American entrepreneur can launch and grow an enterprise," Harris wrote. "It is in this reimagining that we will remain competitive — and come out of this pandemic stronger than before."