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Vice President Kamala Harris visits Richmond farm to spotlight small businesses

Posted at 3:23 PM, May 04, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Vice President Kamala Harris toured Babylon Micro-Farms in Scott's Addition Thursday afternoon to highlight the Biden administration's investment in small businesses to mark National Small Business Week.

The vice president's visit highlights how small businesses benefited from the State Small Business Credit Initiative, which was authorized and expanded under the American Rescue Plan, according to officials with the administration.

Babylon, an indoor, hydroponic farm, received a $150,000 equity investment from the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation, which the SSBCI supports.

Alexander Olesen, Babylon Micro-Farms co-founder, said that funding was key to the success of the business.

"The grant funding they've provided has allowed us to get where we are today," Olesen said. "We are deeply honored to show you the work we do about microfarming and the potential for small businesses to be at the cutting edge of sustainable technologies."

Olesen also said indoor farming is helping in the climate crisis.

“Indoor farming can enable anyone to grow their own fresh food using 90% less water or harmful chemicals,” Olesen said. “This is an essential tool for food security and the fight against climate change.”

Harris said Babylon is just one example of an innovative small business that is growing because of the administration's policies.

“The story of this business is one of many stories around our country," Harris said. "Because of the investments we’ve made, because of the incredible determination of our entrepreneurs, America is seeing a small business boom. Since we took office, 10.5 million new small businesses have been filed I terms of applications for filing.”

In fact, White House Deputy Communications Director Herbie Ziskend said the nation has seen the largest number of new small business filings in two years in American history.

Harris said small business owners are crucial to the country's success.

"In each of them I have seen the ambition and the aspiration that powers our nation," Harris said. "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."

WATCH FULL VIDEO: Vice President Kamala Harris visits Babylon Micro-Farms in Richmond

Vice President Kamala Harris visits Babylon Micro-Farms in Richmond

RELATED: Debt limit deadline looms as Democrats, GOP spar on spending

However, Harris' appearance in Richmond, which is her second in less than a year, drew criticism from Virginia Republicans. Republican Party of Virginia Chair Rich Anderson said he thinks Harris should be in Washington working with Republicans to raise the debt ceiling, saying Republicans in the House passed a bill to do that last week.

"They're ready to sit down and negotiate with Democrats and with the White House, but they have said that negotiations are a non-starter," Republican Party of Virginia Chair Rich Anderson said. "So to me, she ought to be in Washington doing her part to try to hammer out an agreement to get control of this U.S. economy."

When asked about the criticism, the White House spokesperson said that the Republican bill slashes funding to several federal programs.

Of note, Biden has invited Republican leadership to the on Monday, but Reuters reports will discuss the budget with them, but will not negotiate on the debt ceiling.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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