Celebrate National Small Business Week with the SBA

Maine District Office  - September 10, 2021

u s small business administration

Celebrate National Small Business Week with the SBA next week

by Diane Sturgeon, District Director

Diane Sturgeon

Did you know that the U.S. Small Business Administration has celebrated National Small Business Week (NSBW) for more than 50 years?  Each year during NSBW, SBA recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic we made a shift toward an entirely virtual celebration and here we are again.  We continue to face unique and unexpected challenges together.  Through these challenges, Maine’s small businesses continue to play a central role in building a strong country, prepared for any obstacles in the future.

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create nearly two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. Maine is no different in that respect with almost 57% of all Maine employees working for a small business and more than 99% of all businesses in Maine considered “small” by SBA standards.  During NSBW, the SBA takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others who support entrepreneurship from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories.  Every day, they are working to grow small businesses, create 21st-century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.

On September 13-15, the SBA will host the National Small Business Week Virtual Summit to spotlight America’s entrepreneurs and the renewal of the small business economy as they build back better from the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.

The virtual summit will honor the nation’s 32.5 million small businesses for their perseverance, ingenuity, triumphs, and creativity.  During NSBW we will honor businesses like Wild Cow Creamery in Belfast.

Wild Cow Creamery makes all-natural ice cream from scratch. Each small batch is made with simple, high-quality ingredients and add-ins are mixed in by hand. Their shop in Belfast and stand on the Bangor waterfront are local summer staples. The pandemic hit just as business owners Sarah Wilder and Ryan Cowan were getting ready for the upcoming season.

The options looked dire. Selling ice cream in Maine means trying to make the bulk of your revenue over the course of just two to three months. News reports and local authorities were signaling a confusing mix of evolving guidelines and information. Although one thing was becoming clear: if there was going to be any ice cream season, it would be severely limited.

For years, Sarah and Ryan had worked with the Small Business Development Center and Ann McAlhany, an SBDC Business Advisor, to explore expansions, review financials, create business plans, and much more. They had already been scouring the Internet for information and attending many of the SBDC webinars. Ann answered their questions and helped guide them as new information was made available. She kept them informed and helped them apply for multiple pandemic assistance grants and loans.

After sorting out some critical supply chain issues, converting their Belfast location to a walk-up window, and checking the comfort level of their employees, Wild Cow Creamery opened their locations at the end of June 2020 in an effort to keep their business afloat and make what revenue they could. Despite the effort, sales for the year were down more than sixty percent.

With Ann’s guidance, Wild Cow Creamery received relief funds from multiple programs including the advance and loan from the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) as well as a grant from SBA’s Restaurant Relief Fund (RRF).

Please join me in celebrating the achievements and the resiliency of small businesses like Wild Cow Creamery by attending the National Small Business Week Virtual summit.  You can register here: www.sba.gov/nsbw.

While it is my hope that next year will bring us normalcy and the ability to gather to celebrate the resilience of the small business community, either way the SBA is here to help you at any stage of your business journey.