SBA’s Guzman Used Michigan Visit to Highlight Support of ‘Made in America’ Initiatives

    DETROIT — U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman visited the metro Detroit area Monday to highlight local manufacturers and the importance of supporting small businesses that make their products in America. She was joined by U.S. Reps. Brenda Lawrence, Rashida Tlaib and Haley Stevens for a women-owned small business roundtable. 

    “Our small businesses make and deliver the products we all depend on every day, and they will lead us as we bring manufacturing back, especially in Detroit, where making things is ingrained in the culture,” Guzman said. “As we saw firsthand at Centrepolis Accelerator and K-Tec Systems, our small manufacturers are helping to reverse the downtrends of the past.  Under President Biden’s leadership, small manufacturers will have a level playing field and strengthen domestic supply chains, bring down costs for businesses and families, and open doors of opportunity in Detroit and all across the nation.

    “And many of our emerging success stories are being created by women who are starting businesses at high rates. I was honored … to celebrate the progress women and all of America’s entrepreneurs made … and to hear from small business owners who have been the driving force behind America’s strong recovery from COVID and now are working with their trademark grit and determination to build a better, more competitive American economy than ever before.”

    Guzman kicked off her trip by visiting The Narrow Way Cafe & Shop and meeting owner Sabrina Swain. The Narrow Way Cafe & Shop is a black-owned small business that started as a pop-up in the bookstore of Straight Gate International Church. Currently, the Narrow Way Café & Shop serves Zingerman’s coffee and pastries, baked goods from Avalon International Breads, and smoothies. The Narrow Way Cafe & Shop braved the worst of the pandemic with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding and used the assistance to pay staff while they reconfigured their business and adjusted to COVID.

    Following her visit to The Narrow Way Cafe & Shop, Guzman visited Centrepolis Accelerator and met with Lawrence, Tlaib and Stevens, Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, and SBA Regional Administrator to the Great Lakes region, Geri Aglipay. In 2021, the Centrepolis Accelerator was named a winner of the SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, conducted by the Office of Innovation and Technology.

    Guzman, Lawrence, Tlaib, Stevens, Gilchrist, and Aglipay participated in a roundtable discussion with women business leaders and owners in Detroit. In the roundtable, Guzman highlighted the assistance SBA offers to help women and minority-owned businesses now and in the future. 

    “I was honored that (Guzman) was able to join me for a roundtable with some of the incredible women small business owners in Southeast Michigan. Especially in the past few years, it was small businesses owned by women and people of color who bore the brunt of this pandemic,” Lawrence said. “This is why, amid Women’s History Month, we hosted this roundtable to discuss the challenges they were facing and how Congress and the SBA can work together to help our women entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed.”

    Stevens said she was likewise honored to take part in the roundtable “focused on women-owned small businesses in Oakland County.

    “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, but unfortunately, women-owned small businesses have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stevens said. “As part of my Women-Owned-Wednesday initiative, I hear from female small businesses owners in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District about the challenges that they face and how the federal government can help them succeed. These visits inspired me to introduce my Increasing Developing Entrepreneurship Access (IDEA) Act. This legislation will create a grant program to develop a network of business accelerators that promote growth for minority-owned businesses through enhanced access to capital, business networks, and supply chains. I am proud to partner with the SBA as they work to empower small business owners and help them thrive. When women succeed, it leads to stronger communities and a robust economy across the nation.”

    Following the roundtable discussion, Guzman also toured the K-TEC Systems assembly facility with Gilchrist and met President and CEO, Catherine Koch. K-Tec Systems is a women-owned manufacturer of test equipment, temperature sensors, wire harnesses, and control systems. During the COVID-19 pandemic, K-Tec Systems got funding from Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) and the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (COVID EIDL), which helped sustain payroll and pay back a debt to her bank and help expand her talent pool. Prior to this, they also benefited from funding from the SBA’s 7(a) Loan Program.

    Guzman ended her trip by meeting Bobcat Bonnies restaurant owner Matt Buskard. Currently, Bobcat Bonnies have over 200 employees and six locations. During the pandemic, Bobcat Bonnies benefitted from funding from the SBA’s PPP and COVID EIDL programs. They used funding from PPP to bring back and keep staff on and a small percentage to pay vendor bills, and COVID EIDL funding to pay bills as they went through shutdowns and limited capacities and expand their outdoor dining options.