The U.S. Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo Strengthening Small Business Initiative

A joint initiative of The United States Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo

About the Initiative

The U.S. Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo Strengthening Small Business Initiative employs a multi-element strategy to promote mayoral leadership that establishes, supports and strengthens small business and entrepreneur ecosystems in cities by equipping small business owners and entrepreneurs with the tools, training, and access to capital needed to succeed in today’s economy. 

The initiative will provide opportunities to share best practices; and provide education and support information to level the playing field by advancing stronger and more equitable small businesses and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Leading the Strengthening Small Business Initiative is the Conference’s Workforce Development Council (WDC). Comprised of mayor-appointed workforce board leaders from across the country, the WDC actively informs the focus of the nation’s mayors on workforce and economic development. American Job Centers and workforce boards are uniquely situated across the country as a coordinated and connected local resource and system to support small business and entrepreneurship in cities. Accordingly, in its capacity as the body that develops workforce and economic development policy priorities for the nation’s mayors, the WDC leads the work of the Conference on this initiative supporting mayoral leadership in small business and entrepreneurship efforts. The initiative is dually focused on mayoral engagement and leadership, as well as small business and entrepreneurship training through the expertise and networks of the WDC, USCM and Wells Fargo. The centerpiece of the strategy is to bring awareness to existing tools, resources and data available to small businesses including data on philanthropic work with select “Open for Business” cities.

Wells Fargo established the Open for Business Fund in 2020 by voluntarily donating all gross processing fees from PPP loans made in 2020 to provide grants to CDFIs and other nonprofit organizations that provide capital and technical support to diverse-owned small businesses. In 2021, Wells Fargo fulfilled its roughly $420 million Open for Business Fund commitment to support an inclusive economic recovery for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Primary elements of the initiative include:

  • A National Wells Fargo/USCM Women Entrepreneurs and Small Business convening of mayors, Wells Fargo representatives, city staff, USCM staff and experts, small business representatives and other stakeholders to raise awareness; and educate, amplify, motivate, and share best practice successes.
  • Four regional/metro-mayor roundtable events for mayors, Wells Fargo representatives, relevant stakeholders and small business owners/ entrepreneurs.

Tools and Resources

Meaningful Investments and Support Keep Small Business Doors Open

Over the last two years, many of us have discovered just how much we depend on small businesses to meet our needs. Whether it’s visiting a nearby diner for a chorizo omelet, calling up your friendly florist to create a bouquet of colorful blooms, or relying on the vital services of a trusted child care provider to nurture our little ones, small businesses are at the heart of our communities.

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How Small Businesses Can Go From Surviving to Thriving in High Inflation

It’s no surprise that small business owners are experiencing a pandemic hangover, thanks to the double whammy of high inflation and rising interest rates. In November 2022, 33% of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. So, what’s an owner to do?

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Your Pay Plan Workbook

An early-stage entrepreneur has a unique opportunity to set up her business with fair pay practices from the start. With this in mind, toolkits with the support of Wells Fargo Foundation were designed to help women set goals, and define pathways to fair pay practices for themselves and their employees. In this step-by-step workbook, resources, and video content help build a fair pay strategy. Also included is a resource guide, a milestone checklist, and case studies that examine fair pay practices across different organizations.

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Veteran Entrepreneurs Turn Military Skills Into Business Ownership

Warrior Rising, with funding from Wells Fargo, offers veterans mentoring, education, networking, and more as they pursue a path to business ownership.

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Boost Your Business’ Online Presence

In today’s marketplace, it’s becoming more and more important for small businesses to create a digital footprint. Yet, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that many minority-owned businesses, especially those owned by solopreneurs, have little time to devote to these efforts.

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Featured Videos

Mayors know how important small businesses are to the economic strength of their cities, It’s the small businesses that give cities their character. With this new partnership with Wells Fargo, the Conference is being decisive and focusing on what mayors can do right now to help our small businesses not only survive but thrive.

U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director, Tom Cochran