Weekly Columns

Small businesses play an integral role in the growth and development of our communities. They are the backbone of our economy and represent core values that are at the heart of America – hard work, risk-taking and success. Each year we recognize their important contributions to our state and nation during National Small Business Week. 

Small businesses saturate our communities, but launching, operating and growing them is no small feat. The lifeblood is capital, but it also takes mentorship, expertise and a lot of thankless work. 

As part of events commemorating National Small Business Week from April 28-May 4, the U.S. Small Business Administration highlights entrepreneurs from across the country for their determination and contributions to our economy in an awards ceremony in the nation’s capital. 

Arkansas entrepreneur Lynette West is our state’s Small Business Person of the Year for 2024. The Jonesboro business owner operates HealthWear Corporation, a boutique business that offers medical uniforms and accessories. 

Her hands-on approach has helped create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere in the store, attracting a loyal customer base. As a result of her leadership, HealthWear has received recognition not only for its stellar reputation among clientele, but also for the quality of its products, including an award for best uniform from Premiere Magazine in northeast Arkansas. These accolades and West’s pursuit of support and mentorship have helped her guide the business through challenges and opportunities alike.

It's important for West and other entrepreneurs to have access to capital so they can invest in their operations and workforce. We must advance policies that encourage borrowers and lenders, not make it harder to access the resources necessary to sustain or expand a venture. 

In our economic system we know there are risks, and some protection from them is necessary, but the Biden administration is proposing and implementing regulations that are actually hurting small businesses and the banks and credit unions that support them. 

At a time when capital has quickly become more expensive, regulators are adding to the problem and discouraging banks from lending. This ultimately deters investment and growth in our small businesses.

I’m proud to lead legislation to turn back overreach and preserve access to capital. The Small Lender Act addresses concerns about a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule which would require lenders to solicit social factors from small business borrowers and divulge it to federal bureaucrats in Washington. While discrimination of any form is wrong, this rule would prioritize social factors over creditworthiness in small business lending, place additional red tape on lenders and making it harder for businesses to obtain critical financing.

The Small Lender Act would remove this red tape for certain lenders and small business borrowers, making it easier for capital to get to the enterprises that depend on it the most.

Companion legislation is sponsored by Arkansas Congressman French Hill. Natural State small businesses owners, and our family, friends and neighbors who establish or are employed by them, can be proud knowing we are working to improve policies to support their success.

Our state is home to more than 258,000 small businesses that employ more than 500,000 people. By supporting Arkansas and American small businesses, we can help revitalize our economy and strengthen the operations that underpin it. I’m proud to advance and promote pro-growth and pro-job policies that create an environment of certainty for job creators to plan for the future and enhance their operations.