Serving small businesses makes for a rewarding year

Betsy Markey
Betsy Markey

It’s been an honor and privilege serving the small business community over the last year as the U.S. Small Business Administration Region VIII administrator.

I take pride in the fact I’ve traveled more than 10,000 miles visiting small business and community leaders in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

The last 12 months have gone by fast, and I’m proud of the accomplishments achieved on behalf of the more than
1 million entrepreneurs in this six-state region. It was an unbelievable ride, and I’m glad I was able to spend it working with the great staff at the SBA. In looking at my calendar, I realize I participated in nearly 300 events — including more than 40 speeches and presentations, more than 40 media interviews and nearly 220 outreach meetings.

Having run two small businesses of my own and represented Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, I know the critical importance of a strong economy to the well-being of families. From my first day on the job, I worked hard to advocate for policies that promote small business growth and create the family supporting jobs our middle class needs.

One of my first goals was to promote and support underserved small business communities, including women, veteran and minority owned firms as well as businesses in rural areas. I knew the best way to champion these groups was to work at the grassroots level. We were the first region in the country to host a Native American summit that focused on ways the SBA can work to better support economic development initiatives. I participated in countless programs that support veterans, including Boots-to-Business training events. I also knew educating the next generation of business leaders was at a critical juncture when I spoke at multiple emerging leaders class graduations.

My grassroots work meant meeting with more than 100 mayors and economic development officials to find out what they needed from the SBA to save Main Street businesses. I learned SBA must continue to support their work by providing additional access to capital and business training for established and start-up small businesses.

Working with such organizations as local chambers of commerce, women’s business organizations, Rotary clubs, world trade centers, SBA lenders, other federal and state agencies and elected officials put me in contact with small businesses on the front line of creating jobs and opportunities. I met some truly amazing entrepreneurs with some remarkable innovations and business ideas. I met some truly amazing entrepreneurs with some remarkable innovations and business ideas.

It was important to maintain good communications and collaborative relationships with elected officials at all levels of government so we could work together to make progress on the issues facing entrepreneurs. We should all be proud of the many dedicated mayors, county commissioners,
town administrators, congressmen  and  senators  who  work
tirelessly in Region VIII to create a business friendly environment.  Thank you all for your support.

It’s been a busy year, and I’ll always have great memories of the wonderful people I met on my many travels across Region VIII. I know the SBA will be in good hands over the next several years and foresee the future for entrepreneurship in this country as bright and growing.