As a member of President Obama’s Cabinet, serving as the voice for small business, I am proud to represent America’s Main Street retailers, entrepreneurs and innovators — the very essence of the American spirit. Now in its seventh year, Small Business Saturday is our day to express our economic patriotism and give back to our locally owned enterprises that do so much for our communities.

Measuring the impact

During Small Business Saturday last year, more than 95 million Americans spent a combined $16.2 billion at independent neighborhood retailers and restaurants, finding unique handmade gifts for loved ones or “dining small” at their favorite local eatery.

We know what an impact these consumer decisions can have. Shopping small is a proven way to grow the economy — not just because it reinvests directly back into our communities, but because small businesses generate 2 out of every 3 net new jobs nationwide and employ half of our private sector workforce.

The latest economic report shows that the U.S. economy outpaced predictions for the third quarter of this year, growing at the fastest rate since 2014. Our economy has created 15 million jobs over an unprecedented 72 months of consecutive job growth, even while fighting our way back from the worst recession in 80 years.

“Our economy has created 15 million jobs over an unprecedented 72 months”

Improving access to capital

Small businesses are the primary driver behind all that job creation, and it’s our job at the U.S. Small Business Administration to help continue the momentum. We do this by helping small companies launch, thrive and grow. Since I took the helm at the SBA, we have focused on being smart, bold and accessible: building smarter and more efficient systems, enabling bolder steps into new markets and supply chains, and creating programs that make the path to business ownership more accessible to entrepreneurs in every corner of our nation.

The SBA helps entrepreneurs by offering access to capital, consulting and contracts. We work with approved lenders to take on some of the risk for small business owners who need better access to loans to grow their ventures. Last year alone, we guaranteed more than 70,000 loans, for a total of $28.9 billion, an increase of 3.5 percent over prior year, and supported more than 694,000 jobs across the country. We make sure that more capital is in the hands of those who need it most, boosting lending to underserved communities by up to 79 percent since 2014. This loan program operates at zero taxpayer subsidy.

Empowering entrepreneurs

We also manage the world’s largest network of free business advisers and mentors to provide customized assistance to entrepreneurs. And we work with our partners in the federal government to level the playing field so more business owners successfully compete for federal contracting dollars. Last year we reached an all-time percentage high, surpassing our goals with more than $90 billion in contracts awarded to small businesses.

Small businesses create opportunities and enable social mobility that expands our middle class and deepens our democracy. We hope Small Business Saturday inspires you to shop small all year long. This Saturday, join me and millions of your fellow Americans who are helping create jobs and supporting economic growth in their own backyard. You can do your part: Shop small, dine small and make a big difference.