During our holiday season, as we consider our many blessings, we can be thankful Americans at all income levels are benefiting from our booming economy and new trade agreement progress. President Trump’s pro-growth policies continue to help put millions of Americans back to work and give hope to communities in both urban and rural settings. More than 7 million jobs have now been created since President Trump was elected in November 2016, with the majority of them created by small businesses.

Positive economic news has given a boost to small merchants struggling to compete with online retailers and to hire during the tight labor markets seen in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region VII states of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa. Still, the holiday shopping season is a critical time of year for all small retailers. Many small businesses earn 50% or more of their total annual revenues during the critical period between now and New Year’s Day. And those are among the small businesses that continue to create more than 65% of all net new jobs nationwide.

American workers may have more money to spend these days, having seen wages increase 3.1% over the prior 12 months, and this can help small retailers with sales.

Americans of all backgrounds are thriving in today’s booming economy with the overall unemployment recently reported at 3.5%. The unemployment rate for African Americans hit a new record low of 5.1%, and the unemployment rate for Hispanic men plummeted to 3%, matching its record low. Getting back into the workforce enables more Americans to make purchases, some for the first time in several years.

The end of 2019 has brought some great economic news for Americans as a whole and also for the small businesses in Region 7. Our resource and lending partners have increased their likelihood of success. In the last fiscal year, Region 7 SBA programs helped more than 2,000 small businesses get SBA backed financing for more than $1.1 billion in support. More than 18,000 business owners or new entrepreneurs were counseled, trained or mentored by Region 7's Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE business mentors. Nearly 1,000 area veterans and family members were trained or counseled in SBA programs specific to veterans. Our district employees met with community members and lenders in more than 175 expressly rural communities to promote an understanding of the federal programs and services offered, requiring a drive of almost 350 miles to one of the locations.

Almost 18,000 small businesses across the region received an award for a contract on federal work, with over $21 billion awarded in the region.

We at the SBA, our resource partners and lending partners know small business is the fabric of our local economies and deserve our attention each day. Please join me, and my family, in shopping at locally owned small businesses in your town or city.

Tom Salisbury is Region VII administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. He oversees the agency’s programs and services in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa.

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