Small business owners are still struggling with inflation, supply chain woes and what they see as a lagging economy, according to a new Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices survey. Forty Rhode Island business owners traveled to Washington D.C. last week as part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit to meet with hundreds of officials to discuss how to boost access to capital, child care and government contracting.
Katie Schibler Conn, owner of KSA Marketing in Warwick, was one of those participants that made the trek to D.C. and spoke with Rhode Island’s U.S. Senator Jack Reed and U.S. Rep. David Cicilline. Conn is a 2019 alumni of the Goldman Sachs Small Business program and was part of a delegation of alumni speakers this year. 
The Small Business Voices survey, which was conducted by Babson College and David Binder Research from June 20-23, found that 78% of respondents said the economy has gotten worse in the past three months, and 61% of respondents said the U.S. continues to move in the wrong direction. As with previous summits, a high number of respondents, 88%, said they would urge Congress to reauthorize the Small Business Administration. which has not occurred in more than 20 years.
Like many small business owners, Conn is a parent. She said her main struggle is child care. Not only is she seeing the cost go up, but her employees are also having a hard time.
“It’s been hard as an employer because the cost of child care is so high that a lot of employees are just choosing to stay home and work or they’re getting poached,” Conn said. “At the moment it is crippling small businesses, especially in a state like Rhode Island where there are a ton of jobs attached to small businesses.”
Conn said she was hoping to see the return of a child care tax incentive as part of the infrastructure bill, but it’s been held up in Congress. In the meantime, she’s hoping that the local government in Rhode Island might step in and provide assistance. 
“I was happy to travel to D.C. and speak with so many officials,” she said. “We came not only to solve workforce challenges, but to create a focused growth plan on recruiting and development. Hearing all those stories from small business leaders re-ignited my focus and renewed my fire.”
Despite concerns regarding economic conditions, 65% of the Small Business Voices survey participants said they feel optimistic about their own financial trajectory this year.
Conn is one of those people, especially since she’s almost doubled her staff to 20 in the last few years. When a lot of businesses started experiencing ripple effects from the pandemic, Conn said she fielded a lot of panicked calls from business owners wondering what to do next. Some of the lessons she doled out, Conn said, came from educational programs she participated in via Goldman Sachs. 
“They really have stepped in and helped a lot of small businesses over the last few years,” she said.
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