U.S. Small Business Administration Admin. Isabella Guzman (third from the left), Norcross Mayor Craig Newton, and Rep. Lucy McBath (D.-Ga.) speak with small business owners Nona D. Johnson and Briana Murray of The Local Peach. Photo by Janelle Ward/The Atlanta Voice

U.S. Representative Lucy McBath (GA-07) appeared in Norcross Tuesday afternoon with Administrator Isabella Guzman of the U.S. Small Business Administration to hear from the ACE Women’s Business Center and members of local chambers of commerce at a roundtable event and luncheon inside the Norcross Culture Arts & Community Center.

Administrative Guzman, who was appointed by President Biden to lead the SBA at the beginning of his term, spoke with the leaders about the progress made via the president’s “Investing in America” initiative, and toured Norcross-based small businesses with Rep. McBath following the series of events.

“It’s great to be here and everyone is always fabulously nice and warm and innovative,” Administrative Guzman said. “I get great ideas when I come here, and there was no difference with this great group of small businesses.”

Guzman said she and the luncheon attendees spoke about the impending issues affecting small business owners across metro Atlanta, placing emphasis on the need for capital. She said the Biden-Harris Administration has worked to address entrepreneurs’ need for assets by increasing availability to loans. Guzman also said that as a public-private partnership, the SBA works through lending organizations, like banks and credit unions, to allocate microloans to small business owners that can be used to start or grow their ventures.

Rep. McBath, who represents Georgia’s congressional district comprising portions of Gwinnett and Fulton counties, said she met Guzman in Washington and encouraged her to visit District 7 to serve as the bridge connecting business owners to government-backed resources and programs.

“We’re the fastest-growing and the most diverse district in the state of Georgia,” McBath said. “Growth is really important; economic viability is very important.”

McBath also said it’s important for small business owners in her district to know that the Small Business Administration is working to help local businesses achieve financial success.

“This community needs to see the great work that the Biden-Harris Administration has done to make sure that our business community is economically viable on the resources, [and] making sure that these resources are readily available to people [and] easier to access,” McBath said. “I wanted them to hear that from [Guzman] so that they know that we are on their side.”

Small businesses faced widespread financial plunder during the early months of the pandemic, as business owners were forced to rapidly change courses of action or shut down altogether. Guzman said that while Biden’s initial years in office were dedicated to helping small business owners recover losses or start over from scratch, the rest of the president’s term will focus on helping existing businesses expand their reach while prompting new business owners to get a headstart on launching their ventures.

In terms of statistics, Guzman said approximately 26,000 projects have been created nationwide since the beginning of Biden’s term aiming to assist small business owners. The federal government has also received more than 10 million new business applications from residents all over the country, approximately 600,000 of which came from Georgia alone.

Guzman cited the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act as just two approaches Biden is taking to invest in the country, intended to place more economic power in the hands of working class individuals.

“I’m looking forward to what those 600,000 business applications can evolve to become and help and support them through the SBA,” Guzman said.