September 23, 2022

In Pilsen, Duckworth, SBA Administrator Guzman, Representative García Emphasize Importance of Supporting Small Businesses


[CHICAGO, IL] — In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and in support of Illinois’s Latino business community, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, visited the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and held a roundtable with small business owners to emphasize her commitment to supporting entrepreneurs. Duckworth, along with U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabella Guzman and U.S. Representative Jesús Chuy García (D-IL-4) discussed their efforts to empower underrepresented entrepreneurs in the face of COVID-19 and how several Small Business Administration’s (SBA) federal pandemic relief programs have helped and can continue doing so. Photos of the event are available here.

“Small businesses are more than just places to visit and shop, they are part of the glue that holds communities together and for every small business that we work to keep open, that’s at least one job saved, and that’s a community keeping an important piece of economic development and culture,” said Duckworth. “As we support small businesses, I’ll keep working to level the playing field for entrepreneurs of color, women and Veterans while working to strengthen local economies marked by social and economic disadvantage. I’m so glad to be in Pilsen today and see how resilient so many Latino owned businesses have been and I know my work in supporting Illinois’s entrepreneurs is not done.”

“Latinos are starting and growing small businesses at the highest rates, and their hard work and resilience has helped them to persevere, adapt, and thrive thanks to support from the SBA and critical local partners and resources,” said Guzman. “I was honored to join Senator Duckworth today to celebrate their successes during Hispanic Heritage Month and meet directly with Chicago small business owners and their advocates to hear how the federal government and the SBA can help them continue to overcome challenges to build their enterprises, create jobs, and fuel our economy. President Biden has put equity at the heart of everything we do and SBA is advancing access to resources and affordable capital for all small business owners. With landmark new legislation like the Infrastructure Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, we need all our great entrepreneurs and innovators to build a future economy, and we’ll continue to work with Senator Duckworth and Congress to make sure they get the support they need to grow and succeed.”

“Small businesses are the soul of our neighborhoods and make-up the backbone of our economy. On 26th street, just a few blocks from my home, we have the second largest tax-grossing retail corridor in Chicago. On the northwest side, Paseo Boricua continues to see new and old businesses open and thrive,” said García. “Although many of these small businesses were hit hard by the pandemic, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is now building on the support provided in the American Rescue Plan to aid with their recovery. I look forward to working with Administrator Guzman to ensure these resources get to small, minority-owned businesses and that information is made available in Spanish and other languages.”

Duckworth, Guzman and García were joined by SBA Region V Administrator Geri Aglipay, SBA Illinois District Director Bo Steiner, SBA Illinois Deputy District Director Mark Ferguson, National Museum of Mexican Art President and Founder Carlos Tortolero, National Museum of Mexican Art Director of Operations Alex Alvarez, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jaime di Paulo, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Director of Policy Adrian Rodriguez, Franco Hauling President July Franco, Economic Strategies Development Corporation President Alex Esparza, Economic Strategies Development Corporation Community Outreach official Salvador Cerna, Pilsen Cellular Owner Aldo Rodriguez, Little Village Chamber of Commerce Executive Board Member Eve Rodriguez Montoya and The Resurrection Project CEO Raul Raymondo.

Duckworth has been a consistent advocate for underrepresented entrepreneurs and for providing critical relief to businesses during the pandemic. This May, Duckworth held a virtual meeting with SBA Region V Administrator Geri Aglipay to discuss how they’re working to help eliminate hurdles for Black, Latino, Asian American, women and other underrepresented Illinoisans looking to form and grow their small businesses. A week before that meeting, the Senator spoke out after Senate Republicans blocked the passage of the Small Business COVID Relief Act, legislation which would have provided critical relief to restaurants, live event venues and other small businesses.

Last summer, Duckworth called for more assistance for minority owned-businesses as they recovered from the economic impacts of COVID-19. In a letter to SBA Administrator Guzman, Duckworth asked Guzman to use any and all available authorities to assist the more than 2,900 women-, minority- and Veteran-owned small businesses that were denied Restaurant Revitalization Fund assistance that Congress intended for them to receive.

Duckworth is also a co-sponsor of U.S. Senator and Small Business Committee Chair Ben Cardin (D-MD)’s Continuing Emergency Support for Restaurants Act, as well as Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act. Duckworth was also a co-sponsor of the RESTAURANTS Act, provisions of which were included in the American Rescue Plan and her bipartisan Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise Act, which would reauthorize the Interagency Committee for Women’s Business Enterprise, has passed the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.