Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman TJ Cox (CA-21)
August 5, 2020
Last month, the House passed H.R. 7668, a “minibus” legislative package funding several federal agencies and programs for Fiscal Year 2021. This package includes the following six appropriations bills: Defense; Commerce-Justice-Science; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Labor-HHS-Education, and Transportation-HUD. Rep. TJ Cox (CA-21) has continued to advocate for Central Valley priorities, including support for small businesses. California’s Central Valley contains many rural and disadvantaged communities whose small businesses are inequitably affected by a lack of information and assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA).
During his first year in Congress, Rep. TJ Cox identified a major issue with rural small business development assistance: there wasn’t any. In 1990, the SBA Office of Rural Affairs was established and federally mandated, and yet, it never came to fruition. In May 2019, Rep. TJ Cox asked Congress, “why?” and introduced a bipartisan bill to question the dismantlement of the SBA Office of Rural Affairs. Rep. TJ Cox refused to let millions of rural Americans remain neglected and took action by sending a letter to the SBA stating his concern. After his letter went unanswered, he chose to move his inquiry up to their leadership, who promised their action on the matter.
“It was extremely concerning to me when I found that the SBA had failed to meet their commitment to open and operate an Office of Rural Affairs, and even more concerning when my initial letter went unanswered. Rural businesses are already struggling in today’s economy, and the pandemic is pushing them to the breaking point. The livelihood of millions of working families is at stake,” said Rep. TJ Cox. “Now more than ever, we need an operational Office of Rural Affairs to address their needs and help their businesses thrive. I continue to work hard with my colleagues in Congress to push the SBA to develop a fully operational Office of Rural Affairs so that we can assist them in supporting rural small businesses in the Central Valley and across the United States.”
In a huge win for rural small businesses, the legislation passed includes Rep. Cox’s request to direct the SBA to submit a report on the Office of Rural Affairs’:
- Mission and strategic plan,
- Staffing and resource requirements, and
- Need for and benefits of establishing an Associate Administrator position
The decision ensures that:
- Small businesses have access to technical, financial, and informational assistance,
- Rural citizens see an increase in economic opportunities, and
- Small businesses are educated on and granted access to the programs Congress has implemented