Weekly Column

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting with Candice Price, the owner of Home Team Auto Sales in Omaha. Candice traveled out to Washington to speak with her federal representatives about the challenges she’s faced as an entrepreneur and business owner. She and I hit it off immediately, and I was grateful for the many insights she shared with me. During that meeting, we came up with the idea to organize a roundtable with other female business owners in Omaha.

A couple of weeks ago, that idea came to fruition. Candice organized an amazing event with a detailed agenda and a cohort of impressive businesswomen. It was a great opportunity for me to hear about their work, their successes, the challenges they face, and how I can help them as their Senator.

Each of these women shared her story, including the obstacles she’s faced over the years of starting and running a business. The business owners discussed how difficult it can be to apply for loans and the challenge of being awarded loans after applying for them. One of the businesswomen shared that she struggled to find mental health resources tailored to the high-stress environment of running a business. The pandemic especially affected small businesses, placing new strains on their operations and creating new mental health challenges.

Many of the roundtable participants’ concerns revolved around the existence and accessibility of resources, whether for the health of business owners or the growth of their businesses. One woman commented that the biggest problem facing entrepreneurs is a lack of resources. 

At the roundtable, we brainstormed ways to remedy these problems. Earlier this summer, I reintroduced the Achieving Thorough Transparency & Accessibility for Information Navigation (ATTAIN) Mental Health Act with my colleague Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.). This legislation would create a user-friendly online dashboard that would help prospective applicants identify federal grants that support mental health and address substance abuse. A streamlined online dashboard of resources would go a long way in making it easier for people to find the help they need.

The roundtable attendees agreed that a dashboard system similar to this could aid business owners in locating their own resources, ranging from loans to mental health resources. A tool like this would get rid of some of the unnecessary obstacles entrepreneurs and business owners face in Omaha, throughout Nebraska, and across the country. I look forward to keeping in contact with these business-savvy, experienced women and hearing more about what we can do in the Senate to support entrepreneurship. In fact, one of them is visiting me in Washington this fall to continue the conversations we began at the roundtable.

I’m confident that this event will produce constructive results that help the women who sacrificed time and effort to visit with me. Each of them cares deeply about the Omaha community and focuses on accomplishing goals that will have ripple effects on others around them. My time with them was inspiring, and I know many more are being inspired by their leadership.

As your Senior Senator, the most important part of my job is meeting and listening to Nebraskans. This roundtable was just one of the great opportunities I had this August to hear local concerns. During my time in the Senate, I will always continue listening to and working for the people of Nebraska, from Omaha to Scottsbluff and everywhere in between.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

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