Small business owners celebrate Advocacy Day at Georgia Capitol

The Georgia State Capitol is shown in January 2023. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Over a hundred small business owners and advocates gathered at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday to urge legislators to open up more access to capital.

Small Business Majority, one of several small business advocacy groups, spoke to Georgia’s lawmakers on Tuesday about challenges entrepreneurs face, such as access to funding opportunities, inflation, and workforce struggles.

“When we talk about Georgia being the number one state in the country to do business, I think often we think big business, but small businesses are that engine,” said Sen. Sonya Halpern of District 39.

According to the Small Business Administration, 99.6%, or 1.2 million, of Georgia businesses are small businesses.

A group of people standing and smiling on top of stars in the State Capitol.
Over a hundred small business owners and advocates gathered at the State Capitol from a wide variety of industries. (Courtesy of Rachael Shanklin)

“It’s really at large: How do we make sure that our policies don’t stop people from being innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs?” said Halpern, also noting that the relationship between banks and underserved communities is often a tough hurdle.

Takesha Bartley, president & CEO of Bartley Consulting Services, says access to capital is a constant problem for many business owners like herself.

“There’s just not a lot of support for black women and black businesses, certainly from a monetary perspective,” she said. “That is one of our biggest challenges, not having the resources other groups of people do to lean on.”

Rachel Shanklin, Georgia director of Small Business Majority’s outreach, says one bill that the group is pushing for is Senate Bill 157, which would help people reentering society to start their own businesses.

“The bill would make it easier for justice-impacted folks to obtain occupational licenses,” said Shanklin. “And if you didn’t know, one in six jobs in Georgia actually requires an occupational license.”