Babylon Micro-Farms
Richmond, Virginia

(May 4, 2023)

4:32 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Good afternoon.  Please have a seat.  Good afternoon. 
Have — have you all — has anybody been able to tour this facility?  It’s fascinating.  It really is.
Alex — where is Alex and Graham?  Congratulations — and to your whole team — on what you are doing here.  (Applause.)  Really, congratulations.
I could speak at length about what I think is the significance of this work for our country, for our workforce; what it means in terms of a step — a very smart step toward preserving precious resources like water, what it means in terms of developing the skills of the workforce, and the global impact of this kind of approach.
So congratulations to you all.  And thank you for the warm welcome.
And, of course, it is always good to be in Virginia.  Thank you all very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.
And to Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan, thank you always for your leadership.  (Applause.)  Always.  And — and for welcoming us to your district.  And I’ll tell you, I see her hard at work in Washington, D.C., always fighting for the people of this district and the state.  And so I thank you for your partnership to the President and me.  And thank you for all your good work.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 
And, Mayor Stoney, it is good to see — where is the Mayor?  There you are.  (Laughter.)  It is good to be back and to see you.  We have spent some time together also in Washington, where you have been a leader among mayors and have always been talking about this city as an example of what we can do when we put resources into the people.  And so thank you for your leadership, Mayor.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.
And so we are in the midst of National Small Business Week.  And it is a special honor then to be joined, always — and especially this week — by so many extraordinary small-business owners.
You know, I strongly believe that small-business owners and small businesses are the backbone of America’s economy.  Through your creativity, your hard work, and your determination, you create prosperity and opportunity for millions of people.
America’s small businesses employ nearly half of all private-sector workers in our country.  Nearly half. 
You do trillions of dollars of business every year.  The taxes you pay help repair our roads and pay our teachers. 
And through your innovation, you help shape the future of our country. 
And here at Babylon Micro-Farms, you have been taking the lessons our farmers have learned over centuries about how to grow healthy, sustainable food — all the art and the skill that is involved — and you have now added cutting-edge technology.
And this, of course, is the result.  I think that Alex talked a little bit about it.  Each of these farms can grow 45 different kinds of produce at once.  Forty-five.  And they do so using 90 percent less water than traditional outdoor farming.
And, of course, because of the climate crisis, growing more food with less water will be one of the defining challenges of the 21st century.  And you are helping us meet that challenge.
And I do believe, one day, the kind of technology that is happening here may help feed millions of people around the globe.
So when we think about it moving forward, I think about our smel- — small-business owners as innovators.  This is an example of the kind of innovation at play.  And our small-business owners are also not only business leaders, but community leaders and civic leaders.
You’re the ones who train young people and hire locally.  You support the local softball team.  You are role models and mentors.
And I’ve seen it my whole life.  Growing up, my mother worked long hours and long days — and weekends, from time to time.  And when she did, my sister, Maya, and I would go over to Mrs. Shelton’s hours.  Mrs. Shelton lived two doors down from us.  And Ms. Shelton ran the nursery school that we lived over.  We lived in the apartment over her nursery school.
Ms. Shelton was a small-business owner.  She was also a second mother to us.  And she was a fixture in our community.  So many times, I remember watching her sit in a corner of a room giving support and advice to a new mother or to a young person, mentoring people in the community.  So much a part of the fabric and the strength of who we all were.
So I understand and I know, and I have witnessed firsthand, the character and the nature of small-business owners. 
And, of course, then, I know that there are people all across America like Ms. Shelton.  Folks who take the incredible leap of faith required to start a business.  Folks who put their life savings on the line and work through weekends and holidays, because they know they are not just building a business, they are building a better future for the people they love, for the place they call home and, by extension, for our entire country.
In my career, whether I was District Attorney of San Francisco, Attorney General of California, United States Senator, and now as Vice President, I have had the honor — the true honor to work with and meet thousands of small-business owners.
And in each of them, I have seen the ambition and the aspiration that powers our nation.  Small-business owners do so much for our country.  And in return, then, I believe we have a duty to make sure that all small-business owners have the support and the resources they need.
And, you know, when I speak with small-business owners and entrepreneurs, some of our younger small-business owners actually self-identify as entrepreneurs.  They’re small-business owners also.  (Laughter.)  But we’ll go with whatever you like: small-business owner or entrepreneurs.
And — and I often ask them a question.  And I ask them, “Of all the challenges that you face, what is one of your biggest concerns?”
And I’ll tell you, one of the answers that I hear most often, that is something we have been addressing, is their need to have access to capital.  Right.
And all across our nation, there are folks who want to hire more employees, want to open more stores, want to fill their stock, and, sadly, don’t always have the capital to do that.
And so, for years, I have thought about how we can do the hard work of expanding access to capital and, in particular, by investing in community banks.
Because, as many of you know, community banks provide capital and financial support to small-business owners and, in particular, those in overlooked and underserved communities, including rural communities.
And as the name suggests, these banks are in the community.  The people who work there know the community, know the resources of the community, the capacity of the community, the desires of the community.  They understand, simply put, the needs of the people they serve, and they see the capacity that exists around them that bigger banks often miss.
When I was a United States Senator, we helped secure
$12 billion for community banks.  And so far, our administration has distributed nearly $11 billion of that investment to small businesses across our nation.
So, we worked on getting $12 billion, and we have now invested almost all of it.
And an example here in Richmond is we’ve invested $250,000 to help Let’s Be a Kid Family Daycare hire more staff.  (Applause.)
We invested more than $270,000 to help D&H Construction Services move into a new office.
And these are just a couple of the many examples of what is happening.
In addition, when President Biden and I took office, we vowed to rebuild America’s manufacturing sector, to bring jobs back from overseas, to strengthen our supply chains, and to build in America.
And we have kept that promise.  We have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in American manufacturing. 
And over — this is an interesting fact — over 70 percent of manufacturing companies in America are small businesses.  Over 70 percent are small- — when we think manufacturing, we think, “Oh, it’s got to be this big facility.”  I’ve seen numbers that tell us that over 70 percent of the manufacturing companies in America employ about 20 or fewer folks.  Right?  It’s small businesses who are helping to build America, and including right here, a small business doing manufacturing.
So last year, our administration invested $150,000 in this business, which will help you — (applause) — yes.  Alex and Graham, very happy about that.  Which will help this business — as an example of what we’re doing around the country — expand production, hire more employees, and continue to shape, as is the case here, the future of farming.
And the story then of this business is one of many stories around our country.
Because of the investments we’ve made, because of the incredible determination of our nation’s entrepreneurs, America is seeing a small-business boom.
Since we took office, 10.5 million new small businesses have been filed, in terms of applications for filing for opening.  (Applause.)  Can you imagine?
And think about what that means not only for those individuals but for the people they will hire and for the communities in which they exist.  It’s so very exciting.
And as a result, part of the — the connection there is what we have done to create more than 12.5 million new jobs.  More jobs were created in two years that we’ve been in office than any administration has created in four.
And when we invest in small businesses, we are all very clear we are investing in jobs, in opportunity, and innovation.
And I will say, finally, when we invest in small businesses, we invest in America.
So thank you all for the work you do.
May God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.
Thank you all.  (Applause.)
                                                                                            END                  4:44 P.M. EDT


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