by Mike Vlacich, New England Regional Administrator, US Small Business Administration
July marks two very important things, the celebration of our nation’s birthday, Independence Day on July 4th and later in the month, July 30th marks SBA’s birthday.
Birthdays are always a good time to take stock of what has been accomplished but more importantly, to look ahead to what we can do.
These two “birthdays” are completely connected in my mind. When our nation’s founders fought for and won our independence they were fighting for our freedom and opportunity to create our own destiny, to be self-reliant. The ability to make, produce, buy, and sell goods here in America and to support American ingenuity was a big part of this.
These are values that are just as important today as they were on July 30, 1953, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Small Business Act, creating the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and in 1776 at the founding of our nation.
If we are going to build a truly strong economy, we need a future that’s “Made in America”. That means bringing manufacturing, jobs, and supply chains back home to produce products, parts, and materials in the U.S.
The SBA, under the direction of the Biden Harris Administration is laser focused on doing all we can to recover from the pandemic and navigate through the global economic challenges we face by ensuring our nation recommits itself to a true “Made in America” agenda.
The facts are clear, across America we have seen record job growth, record GDP growth and more American’s are starting new businesses than ever before. In fact, last year, Americans applied to start 5.4 million new businesses – 20% more than any year on record. This is no accident. Our commitment to making, building, and growing our businesses, products, and services domestically helped us overcome the brutal challenges of the last two years and has positioned our nation for stable, long-term growth for years to come.
As the Regional Administrator for SBA, I am blessed to serve small businesses, their leaders, and employees everyday throughout New England.
I have met with New England companies who pulled together to support each other and their communities with the support of the SBA. These companies are the model for how we can work in partnership with the private sector to boost our economy.
Adirondack Guideboat in North Ferrisburgh is a great example of a “Made in America” business here in New England that has been helped by SBA along the way. The company designs and builds custom cedar and Kevlar boats.
When it seemed like every sector of the economy was closing in 2020 due to the pandemic, one area began to thrive. Vermonters wanted to get out of their homes and soon sales for bikes, basketball hoops, swimming pools and boats began to soar.
Justin and Ian Martin, brothers and owners of Adirondack Guideboat reached out to SBA for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan early in the pandemic to help pay their employees. As the pandemic progressed, they realized that there was a demand for their boats.
During this time, the brothers invested in a Computer Numerical Control Router. A CNC precisely cuts a variety of materials including, wood, metal, and plastic into various shapes, which is all controlled and programmed through a computer. This was an expensive purchase, but they knew the CNC would help them increase production.
The purchase of this equipment allowed the Martins to make more of their parts, such as seats, inhouse rather than contracting them out. Now, demand is so high Adirondack Guideboat is even making boats and parts for overseas clients and exporting them to Europe and Asia. This “Made in America” business is reaching areas far beyond New England.
This is just one of the thousands of small businesses in New England that SBA is committed to supporting to ensure that our economy is American made.
As we head into SBA’s seventh decade, there are new opportunities for growth for small businesses fueled by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes approximately $400 million in infrastructure upgrades for Vermont, and the expansion of manufacturing through the Made in America initiative. SBA is committed to helping our local businesses get a part of this pie by opening the doors of procurement so more small businesses can grow and thrive by doing business with the federal government, the world’s largest customer, thereby helping to build a better America for us all.
SBA remains committed to continuing our support of America’s entrepreneurs. While I know we have more work ahead of us to make sure small businesses are getting access to the opportunities they need, I am optimistic about the future for our America-made businesses across Vermont and our nation.
Mike Vlacich is the New England Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration who oversees agency activities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Mr. Vlacich is a first-generation American and the first in his family to attend college, graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 1995. He lives in Concord, NH, with his wife and two daughters.