newsvirginia business owners help needed for post pandemic new normal
Virginia

Virginia business owners: Help needed for post-pandemic ‘new normal’

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(© pikselstock – stock.adobe.com)

Despite ongoing economic challenges facing employers across the country, a new survey shows that small businesses are planning to grow in 2023 and are driving economic confidence.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices released new survey data this week about the state of small business in Virginia and across the United States.

In 2023, small business owners in Virginia expect to create new jobs (49 percent) or maintain the same number of jobs (33 percent), while 89 percent of small business owners nationally expect to create or maintain jobs in the next year.

The survey also found that only 16 percent of Virginia small businesses, and 9 percent of small businesses nationally, have laid off employees in the last three months.

“During the pandemic, small businesses like mine had to innovate and remain nimble to survive and thrive,” said Sydney Rieckhoff, owner of Almost Famous Popcorn and a member of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices community. “Unfortunately, the historic challenges presented by the pandemic made clear that government programs designed to help small businesses have not evolved alongside them. Now, we are navigating our new normal with outdated tools and programs to fit yesterday’s needs.

“I speak for my fellow small business owners in urging Democrats and Republicans in Congress to prioritize our needs by working across the aisle to modernize the Small Business Administration,” Rieckhoff said.

Contrary to reports that inflation has been easing its grip on the economy – 82 percent of Virginia small business owners and 72 percent nationally are finding that inflationary pressures have worsened in recent months.

When asked about the most significant problem facing small businesses, the most common response was difficulty finding and retaining qualified employees. For 42 percent of Virginia small businesses and 35 percent of small business owners nationally who cited this as the primary challenge, the most significant reason was high labor costs.

When asked about the current state of government programs designed to help small businesses, the surveyed owners were largely united in their assessments:

  • 96 percent nationally and 97 percent in Virginia believe the federal government should be updating programs and services to better reflect the realities and needs of small businesses operating in a modern economy
  • 70 percent nationally and 88 percent in Virginia give the federal government a “C, D or F grade” for the effectiveness of the programs, services and tax credits available to small businesses.
  • 85 percent nationally and 77 percent in Virginia give the federal government a “C, D or F grade” for the job it does communicating about programs, services and tax credits available to small businesses.
  • 97 percent of small business owners surveyed in Virginia, along with 94 percent nationally, say it is important for Congress to comprehensively modernize the Small Business Administration

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Businesses Voices is calling on Congress to take bipartisan action to modernize the programs, services and tax credits available to small businesses by reauthorizing the Small Business Administration for the first time in 23 years.

“The results of our survey illuminate the very real economic challenges small business owners across the U.S. continue to face as they emerge from the pandemic crisis,” said Joe Wall, National Director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices. “Congress can help by joining in a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Small Business Administration to modernize government programs that help these business owners navigate our new normal.”

This data is based on a survey of 1,838 Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses participants, including 39 Virginia small business owners, conducted by Babson College and David Binder Research from Jan. 23-26, 2023.

The survey included small business owners from 48 U.S. states.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.

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