As a former small business owner in Fort Worth, I know firsthand how the stress and sweat that go into operating a small business can be so constant that some wonder what compels anyone to do it. The answer can be found in our DNA as Texans.
Our state is home to nearly three million small businesses. Many North Texas small business owners began 2020 planning to tap into our region’s booming economy to expand operations, hire more employees, and take their business to the next level. However, many of their plans slowed to a sputter, or a stop, amid the pandemic.
Recently, my staffer David Winfrey met virtually with a diverse group of Texas 12 small business owners. They were participating in Goldman Sachs’ “10,000 Small Business Voices”, an initiative for small business owners to organize and advocate for policies important to them. Participants included owners of local restaurants, music venues, salons, construction companies, small retailers, and more. These aren’t just small companies, they’re cornerstones of our community, employing those from the waiter at your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant, to your hairdresser, to our friends and neighbors—and combined with the other small businesses across our state, a total of 4.7 million Texans.
Participants shared personal stories of having to lay off or furlough employees, many who’ve worked for them for decades. Restaurant owners had to overhaul operations to meet city mandates of take-out and delivery orders only. Many business owners had to forgo their own paychecks to keep the business afloat. It’s critical to me that these voices are heard in the halls of Congress.
Such trying circumstances have proven that now is no time for politics as usual. Each coronavirus aid package, including those that established or replenished the crucial Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) received strong bipartisan support in Congress. In the first round of the PPP, more small businesses in Texas were approved for PPP loans than any other state, and the Small Business Administration estimates that around 205,000 jobs in Tarrant County alone have been saved so far thanks to the PPP. Such success could only have happened exactly because small business owners have been so effective at communicating to us in Congress just how we can best assist them. I’m proud to be behind such historic legislation delivering for our small businesses, but Congress must continue to share the megaphone with Main Street. It was particularly interesting for my office to hear suggestions from Texas 12 small business owners that Congress consider a dedicated and comprehensive plan to ensure small businesses stay open.
From my years as a Fort Worth small business owner, to Mayor, and now as your Representative in Congress, I’m proud to keep standing up for Texas 12 small businesses at every level of government and at every opportunity. It’s never been easy to run a small business, but now it’s been more difficult than ever. I’ll keep doing my part in Congress to provide our small businesses the aid and resources they need—and to keep shopping small when I can. I hope you do the same. You’ll be supporting not only our small business owners, their employees, and their families, but also the unique fabric of Fort Worth.