The Big Power of Small Businesses

Corrine Casanova  by Corrine Casanova

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration(SBA), over half of the U.S. workforce either owns or works for a small business. In fact, small businesses create two out of every three net new jobs in the private sectors. Rachel Dahl, a sixth generation Nevadan, has been the Senior Area Manager of SBA since March 2018. “You can’t do economic development without strengthening your small business community. It is paramount to being able to attract new business to the area. In my mind, you can’t do one without the other,” said Dahl.

Small businesses are the drivers of Nevada’s growing economy. Nationwide, there are 30.2 million small business owners and in Nevada alone there are 254,337 small businesses. (US SBA Office of Advocacy, 2018).

Nevada Small Business Facts:

  • Over 428,000 Nevadans are employed by small businesses in Nevada
  • 6% of Nevada businesses are classified as small
  • Between 2007-2012, minority ownership increased by 57.8%
  • Women own 36.6% of small businesses in Nevada

The SBA’s mission is “to maintain and strengthen the nation’s economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting the economic recovery of communities after disasters.” Depending on your industry, a small business could be defined as a business with a maximum of 250 employees or 1,500 employees. Privately owned corporations, partnerships or sole proprietorships can all be classified as small businesses.

Dahl is passionate about growing the small business community here in Nevada. “I always go back to the economic development world when I think about how important small businesses are. You spend all your time chasing that one big company to come to your town and hire 500 local people, but if you focus on your small business community, you can achieve similar results but in a different way. You can end up with maybe 100 really strong small businesses and achieve your 500-employee quota. That way the community can absorb all of the things that come with that workforce including housing and so on. I don’t belittle developing a community by attracting large businesses as when it happens, it is fabulous but I think a lot of time we get stars in our eyes wanting that one 500 employee factory and totally forget to take care of our small businesses. When that happens, suddenly you have no strengths in your small business community and you don’t have the infrastructure to attract a big company,” said Dahl.

Joseph Amato is the District Director of SBA in Las Vegas. He sees Nevada as a land of entrepreneurial opportunity with its low tax and low regulatory environment. “The SBA is a primary resource for government guaranteed and fixed-asset loan programs. The SBA serves as an integral partner with area, regional and national lenders that seek to provide competitive commercial loans utilizing these loan programs. Access to capital remains a priority and our efforts to increase small business lending will reflect the importance of our lending-related programs to the Nevada small business community,” said Amato. There are 13 banks headquartered in Nevada that work with the SBA to provide loans. However, most lenders have the authority to make loans nationwide. Currently, 69 banks have made SBA loans in Nevada this fiscal year.

In Dahl’s role as the Nevada Service Area Manager for SBA, she travels extensively throughout the state doing outreach letting the community know about the resources available to them. Frequently, she delivers the most recent Small Business Resource Guide that contains an overview of the depth and breadth of the services they provide. Many aren’t aware of the training SBA provides small businesses. On their website,, they have a learning center which includes training videos that include writing a business plan, marketing and anything else you’d like to know about running a small business.

“One of the strengths of the SBA in Nevada is our resource partners. These include the Nevada Small Business Development Center, Nevada Women’s Business Center, SCORE Northern Nevada, and Las Vegas, the Procurement Outreach Program, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center. All of these help small businesses gain access to government contracts. Often, small businesses aren’t taking advantage of government contracting,” said Dahl. She shared a hypothetical example of someone who owns a cupcake shop. They may not consider applying to be a government contractor because they wouldn’t know how it could benefit them. They may be missing a huge opportunity when suddenly a government agency wants 500 cupcakes once a month for an ongoing event. “If you can land a government contract, that can become the bread and butter of your business. You can then rely on a certain amount of money in a certain time period. It gives your business stability. Government contracting is a focus of ours right now. We just don’t believe small businesses are taking advantage of this opportunity enough,” said Dahl.

Nevada’s SBA works closely with other government agencies including the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “All the different agencies at the local, state and federal levels work together. In the state of Nevada, our strength is that we respect the heck out of each other to support small businesses in our community. Everyone works together and it is awesome,” Dahl concluded.

Rachel Dahl, the Senior Area Manager of SBA since March 2018.

Rachel Dahl’s Photo Courtesy of Howieloo Photography, LLC  Photographer: Laura Howard

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