Supporting Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses
Small businesses are the backbone of our communities, providing goods and services, but also accounting for nearly half of all employment. Improving the ability for small businesses to weather the current crises, enhance their capability to rebound and thrive, and build their long-term resilience is imperative for our communities and our economy.
As a former entrepreneur, and now a mentor for start-up companies, Andria understands the challenges of small businesses. Unfortunately, the devastating economic shocks of the pandemic took a major toll on small business owners and entrepreneurs, especially those owned by women and people of color. She will use her three decades of experience and know-how to help these businesses recover and thrive. Expanding opportunities for all entrepreneurs will help build an equitable economic recovery, provide more high paying jobs and create generational wealth.
- Reduce red tape. Small business owners face numerous obstacles stemming from a complex bureaucracy, information that is hard to find, and even harder to use. Andria will work to improve the certification and recertification processes and increase government support services for the communities that need the most assistance, including
- Small, Women-owned, and Minority-owned Business
- Disadvantaged Business Enterprises
- Service Disabled Veterans.
- Expand the awareness and effectiveness of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), University-based Innovation Centers and regional angel networks. These entities provide counseling and training to help owners start and grow their businesses, commercialize new innovations, access funding and find new customers. Andria will ensure that more entrepreneurs have the training and resources to create and grow their businesses, particularly in emerging industry sectors like cybersecurity, data science, megatronics and the clean energy economy.
- Foster local and regional small business ecosystems. Working with civic and business organizations such as the SBDCs, universities and chambers of commerce, Andria will help connect small business owners to one another and resources, including access to mentorships, to improve their chances for success and tighter integration into their regional economies.
- Support Green and Blue jobs of the future. The move to clean, renewable energy sources and the need to address flooding and water quality will spawn new technologies that both save the planet and create thousands of new opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses to develop new technologies and methods, buy and sell the goods used, and create companies that install and service clean energy transitions. For example, Virginia estimates it will see up to 5000 new jobs created to service offshore wind along the east coast.
- Expand high speed internet access. Affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service is critical to being a successful entrepreneur or small business owner. Andria is committed to ensuring that every business has access to high-speed internet. In addition to ensuring their access, Andria will expand digital training opportunities with the Virginia Department of Small Business to help them develop the necessary skills to have a presence as well as sell their goods and services online.
- Increase access to financial capital. Andria will focus on expanding increased access to capital at all stages of the entrepreneurial journey, including access to microloans for small businesses, mid-range ($20,000-50,000) capital for business expansion, and angel/seed funding for high-growth start up businesses. Andria will support additional funding in the state budget to support these critical funding sources and create more jobs.
- Support our “human capital” with workforce training. Andria will support more funding for our community college system, trade schools and apprenticeship programs to ensure that our workforce has the needed skills and certifications to meet the demand of small businesses.
- Leverage our federal and DoD partners. Andria will utilize her networks in the military and federal delegation to create more opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs to provide goods and services within the military community, including supporting the NavalX TechBridge, whose mission is to create collaboration between Naval Labs, industry, academia, and other military branches.
- Increase access to state procurement. Andria will work to create more economic opportunity for small businesses by ensuring that Virginia meets its goals of spending 23% of its state discretionary spending with woman- and minority-owned businesses and 42% with SWAM-certified businesses.
Andria is the candidate with the most business experience, she has:
- Worked for two Fortune 500 companies in industrial sales and marketing.
- Graduated from the Wharton Management Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Led two small businesses, one in manufacturing and one in technology.
- Served on the boards of the Hampton Roads Technology Council, Tidewater Venture Mentors and the Virginia Small Business Advisory Board (appointed by Governor Mark Warner).
- Supported startup and early-stage companies with investment capital, strategic advice and mentoring to help them achieve market leadership as a board member of 757 Accelerate and 757 Angels, which has invested $64M in 28 companies, resulting in more than 500 high-paying jobs (with an average salary of $64K).