Good afternoon, everyone.
(audience: Good afternoon.)
I was just saying to Monica: I love when she said “the power of possibilities.” Isn’t that right? And, really, the power behind the power of possibilities is that we, as a community, as a society, see it and then invest in it.
I had the great joy and the honor and privilege of meeting with some of the small-business owners who occupy this space, and I have to tell you: Their innovation, their enthusiasm, their love of this community — and, by extension, the country — is really so inspiring. I love our small-business owners. I really do. (Applause.) You know?
But I just have to say, because — many of you may know this, but, you know, my sister, Maya, and I were raised by our mother, and she worked long days. And we had a second mother who lived two doors down, Ms. Shelton. And we lived in the apartment above the nursery school that Ms. Shelton ran.
She was a small-business owner. And she was a matriarch of the community. She was not only a business leader; she was a civic leader. She was part of the cultural fabric of the community, as well as someone who hired locally, who mentored, and who role-modeled what it means to be invested and be successful.
And so, this is very personal for me to be here with all of you and to applaud the work that is being done here. And I want to thank Monica again for her introduction and for your leadership. (Applause.)
And, of course, it is good to be here today with so many incredible leaders. I see so many. I could spend all afternoon mentioning who you are, but I will not do that in case I overlook anybody in particular. But I will say that, in particular, I do want to thank the leaders of our Commerce Department and — and Deputy Secretary Don Graves and Under Secretary Don Cravins.
We’ve been working a lot together over these last couple of years, and they really are extraordinary. They’ve been traveling the — the country and really inspiring so much of the work we have done as an administration. So, I thank the two Dons for all that you do. (Applause.) Thank you.
And to the small-business owners and entrepreneurs of America, including those here today: You are the backbone of our communities and of our economy. And you are part of the pride of our nation.
President Biden and I came into office with a plan to grow and strengthen America’s economy. We knew that, for far too long, our economy has not been working for working people. Entire communities have been left out and left behind. Trickle-down economics — well, it benefitted big corporations and the wealthiest of Americans but not a lot of regular folks.
So, when President Biden and I took office, we decided to invest in the working people of America, to create millions of jobs, to rebuild American manufacturing, to repair our roads and bridges, to replace every lead pipe in our nation, to connect every home with high-speed Internet, to expand clean energy production, and to make sure that every person in America — not just the wealthy or well-connected — have the opportunity to thrive.
All that, ladies and gentlemen and everyone else — that is called “Bidenomics.” (Applause.) That is called Bidenomics, and we are very proud of Bidenomics.
And as today’s jobs numbers make clear: Bidenomics is working. Last month, we created 187,000 new jobs. That means today — yeah, go ahead and clap. (Applause.) I don’t want to step on the applause.
That means, today, 187,000 more Americans are able to go to work, to provide for their family and invest in their future.
Today’s numbers reflect the point that President Biden has made many times: America’s economy is strong and experiencing stable and steady growth.
In fact, since we took office, we have created more than 13 million new jobs. In two and a half years, we have created more jobs — more new jobs than any other administration has created in four. (Applause.)
Today, the unemployment rate is near its lowest level in over half a century. Wages are up. Inflation has fallen 12 months in a row.
And recently, some of the nation’s largest financial institutions have begun to recognize the significant impact of our economic approach. Morgan Stanley increased their expectations for economic growth, as did Bank of America.
And unlike economic recoveries in the past, this growth is not only being felt on Wall Street. But, more importantly, it is being felt on Main Street, especially by people who start and own small businesses.
So, just consider: In just our first two years in office, entrepreneurs have applied to start more new small businesses than in any other two-year p- — period in history.
In addition, President Biden and I have invested billions in American manufacturing. Now, put this in context: Since most manufacturing companies are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees, our investment in America’s manufacturing is also an investment in America’s small businesses.
All of this to say: America’s economic future looks bright. And President Biden and I will keep fighting to move our nation forward. And that includes expanding support and access to capital for small-business owners.
So, many of you may know: As Vice President, I have traveled our nation from rural Louisiana to small towns in New Hampshire to Indian Country to meet with small-business owners and entrepreneurs.
And when I sit down and talk with folks, I often will ask them, “Of all the challenges you, as a small-business owner, as an entrepreneur is — of all the challenges you face, what is your biggest concern?”
And almost to a one, the answer they will give me is “access to capital.” The — they either want to start a business or they want to grow a business but don’t have the relationships with the big banks.
And so, for years, we have worked to expand investment in community banks. Because, you see, community banks specialize in providing loans and financial assistance to small-business owners, in particular, those in overlooked and underserved communities, including rural communities.
And as the name suggests, community banks are in the community. They understand the needs of the people they serve. They understand the capacity and the opportunity, such as the capacity and the opportunity of this community, that big banks often overlook or just don’t get.
And so, building on the work that, as you heard, I led as the United States senator and since taking office, President Biden and I have invested nearly $12 billion in our community banks.
And last year, I was so proud to convene consumer banks, investment firms, technology companies, and philanthropies to launch a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership in support of our small businesses. And what we did is we combined the expertise and the experience of the private sector with the reach and the capacity that only government can provide. And as a result, we have secured billions of dollars in private sector investment for small businesses.
In order to expand access to capital, we have to think outside the box, all of us. And in particular, we feel a sense of responsibility to find innovative ways to support our entrepreneurs and our small-business owners, including to fund community banks, to build public-private partnerships, and to do what we are doing today, which is to invest in small-business accelerators.
So, small-business accelerators are organizations that, in addition to capital, provide advice and support to entrepreneurs. Because not — you know, most of us, in fact, didn’t grow up necessarily having parents or others in our direct community that — that understood all of these business principles and understood high finance. But it’s not that folks don’t have a good idea or the ambition and the aspiration to do things but just don’t have access to the information.
So, basically, a small-business accelerator is a one-stop shop for small businesses to succeed. And they provide everything from mentorship to management courses to assistance filling out business taxes.
And so, today, I am proud to announce that we will invest $125 million in 43 small-business accelerators. (Applause.) And they have been chosen because they are the ones that are — and have a track record of supporting entrepreneurs in underserved communities and helping them to innovate and to hire and to grow.
And nearly all of these accelerators that we have funded are represented here today. And because of these additional resources, these accelerators will be able to extend capital and support to thousands more entrepreneurs and startups to take full advantage of the investments we have made in our nation over the past two years.
And so, consider: Since taking office, President Biden and I have invested about a trillion dollars — a trillion dollars to build a clean enemy — energy economy. A trillion dollars to build and grow a new economy, a clean energy economy.
Think what this means if folks who have the great ideas have access to the information to participate in that and to be in the pipeline of the innovators who are doing this work every day to build back up our country.
Today’s investment in small-business accelerators will help connect entrepreneurs and small-business owners with the support and the guidance they need to break into the clean energy economy.
For example, this investment could allow, let’s say, a college student from Thomasville, Georgia, to connect with a mentor to help launch her clean energy startup and apply for clean energy tax credits.
It could allow, let’s say, a mother of two in Tempe, Arizona, who has a business plan to install solar panels, but she needs the technical support to learn how to turn that plan into a reality and meet the increasing demand for solar energy.
That’s where these accelerators come into play, to help connect that desire, that ambition, that great idea with the resources that are available to actually do that important, innovative work.
This investment, for example, could allow a veteran who owns a auto repair shop in Milwaukee to access the capital he needs to buy equipment to repair electric vehicles.
I’ve visited with some of these innovative small businesses. And, you know, it was interesting. I met with one young innovator who was talking about how he was setting up this company to actually work on electric vehicles and electric batteries. And I said, “Well, tell me about the people who are working with you.” And he said, “Well, they are — we — we refer to them as technicians.” I said, “You mean mechanics?” (Laughs.)
That’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about skills that exist but what we’re doing to upgrade those skills to meet the demands of new economies.
And so, through this investment and our whole Invest in America strategy, President Biden and I are working to make sure that small-business owners and entrepreneurs have every type of support they need to grow. Because as Bidenomics continues to demonstrate: When we invest in the dreams, the ambitions of small-business owners and entrepreneurs, it creates opportunity and prosperity for us all.
Thank you all. May God bless you. And may God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)
"Vice President Harris Remarks on Jobs and the Economy." C-SPAN video. Aug. 4, 2023. https://www.c-span.org/video/?529761-1/vice-president-harris-remarks-jobs-economy.