The Best Places to Work in the federal government rankings are out, showing overall employee satisfaction and commitment throughout the federal workforce.
On Wednesday, I visited an innovative green business in Memphis that retrofits big air-conditioning units in order to reduce wear-and-tear while saving their customers on energy costs. As businesses like this grow and find new customers, we need to do everything we can to make sure they have the working capital they need to scale up and create jobs.
That’s why I was proud to announce that SBA recently reengineered our CAPLines program. Banks are already starting to use it to put more capital in the hands of small businesses.
When a business lands a big new order or wins a federal contract, they often don’t have the necessary cash on-hand to hire workers and buy materials to fulfill it. Now more than ever, we need to make sure a business in that position can secure the necessary financing to take full advantage of those opportunities. The new-and-improved CAPLines program will do just that, giving these small contractors and suppliers the breathing room they need.
One lender that has already made a CAPLines loan is M&T Bank. A startup IT firm had just won several federal contracts and needed a line of credit to cover payroll. The owner had been in business for less than two years. He didn’t have enough collateral, and he didn’t have much equity in his home. M&T Bank said that under the old CAPLines program, they probably wouldn’t have been able to help, but because of the new streamlined process under the new CAPLines, it was much easier.
Here are some benefits of the revamped CAPLines program:
- Small businesses can now borrow against accounts receivable, inventory, contracts, and purchase orders in order to secure an SBA revolving line of credit. For example, when fulfilling a purchase order request, that same order can be used as collateral to obtain an SBA-guaranteed line of credit to hire more workers and buy more materials.
- Small business subcontractors can now obtain an SBA-guaranteed line of credit to finance their work on a contract with a federal prime contractor.
- The SBA no longer requires small business owners without buildings or equipment to use their personal assets as collateral to secure working capital. CAPLines lets them pledge accounts receivable, inventory, contracts, and purchase orders.
- Small businesses benefit from the increased SBA 7(a) loan limit of $5 million, which went into effect with the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. These larger loan sizes will help small businesses that are poised to win bigger contracts and create a significant number of jobs.
I am thrilled that President Obama has declared that November is National Entrepreneurship Month. At the U.S. Small Business Administration, we’re using this month to celebrate entrepreneurship in a number of ways.
- We launched the Student Startup Plan to help more college graduates learn how to lower their loan payments in order to get the “breathing room” they need to start a business.
- We are hosting a Young Entrepreneurs Series (YES) to help more young people come together, exchange ideas, and get on a path toward building a viable business. We will start YES with young veterans in San Diego (Nov. 7) followed by young entrepreneurs from rural areas in Ames, Iowa (Nov. 9).
- We’re kicking off the “Apps for Entrepreneurs Challenge,” which starts this Saturday and runs through Nov. 20. It has $20,000 in prizes for the best mobile apps that help America’s entrepreneurs tap into federal programs to help them grow a business and create jobs.
The entire Administration has been highly focused on making sure entrepreneurs have the tools they need. After all, small businesses create about two of every three new jobs each year.
That’s why the President recently signed a law that will streamline the process for getting a patent. That’s also why the Department of Homeland Security is helping more immigrant-entrepreneurs get the flexibility to start a business and create jobs right here in the U.S. And, of course, that’s why we’ve been working harder than ever at the SBA. For Fiscal Year 2011, which just ended, we put an all-time record amount of SBA loans as well as growth capital in the hands of entrepreneurs and small business owners.
If you’re interested in starting or growing a business, check out www.SBA.gov/direct to find local free counselors in your area. Also, there are some excellent tools available at the Startup America Partnership site, which launched earlier this year to parallel the efforts that the Administration is making.
Today, it has never been a better time to be an American entrepreneur. America continues to out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world with new, powerful ideas that are being born in our classrooms, over our dinner tables, and, yes, even in people’s garages.
This month, let’s find new ways to strengthen America’s entrepreneurial spirit. If we all work together, we can ensure that the future is indeed bright for both the next generation of entrepreneurs and the next generation of great American companies.
Each October, we celebrate one of the fastest-growing segments of America’s economy: woman-owned businesses. As a woman who has started a business and owned several businesses over the years, this is especially important to me.
Today, there are about 8 million woman-owned businesses in the U.S. From 1997 to 2007, the number ofthese firmsgrew about twice as fast as that of men. Find more facts about woman-owned firms here.
We’re building on the momentum of these job creators in a number of ways.
For example, this year, we rolled out the new women’s contracting program. It will help more women-owned businesses compete for federal contractsin over 300 industries where they’ve been underrepresented.
In addition, as we approach Veterans Day, I’m proud to say that over 400 women have graduated from the first year of our Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship program (V-WISE). If you’re one of our 2 million women veterans and you’re interested in this unique training program, go here to see if it’s coming to a city near you.
Finally, I wanted to share a clip of an interview that our Assistant Administrator Ana Harvey (of SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership)recentlydid on a show called “The Balancing Act” which aired on Lifetime. Check it out here:
If you’re a woman thinking about starting a small business – or if you already own one and have questions about how to keep growing – please contact your local SBA office. Our top priority is to make sure you have the tools you need to grow and create jobs.
Small businesses in emerging industries – like clean energy – have cutting-edge ideas that are strengthening our country and changing the world. Today, we are helping them continue to do just that in two major ways.
First, unlike larger firms, many small firms do not have the staff or time to search for all of the federal opportunities that can help them grow and create jobs.
We are pleased to announce that today, they have a new tool with green.sba.gov, where they can find all federal opportunities in a single location.
How did this come about? For the past year, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Small Business Administration worked together to help Navy tap into the innovation that is happening throughout America’s strong and growing number of small, clean-energy businesses.
One of the first, simplest efforts was to create a single web page where all of Navy’s green and renewable energy contracts could be easily found by small businesses. Navy created that site in just a couple of months.
When it was completed, we thought, “Why don’t we do this across the entire federal government?”
So we did.
The SBA pulled together several sources of federal contract opportunities in clean energy. We added federal grant information. In addition, we included patent information so that these small firms could quickly find intellectual property information and licensing opportunities. And finally, we wrapped in all of the federal resources across several agencies that are available to help small, clean energy firms.
The result is an automated, comprehensive, streamlined site that is populated in real-time with new clean energy opportunities for small businesses.
This is a win-win. Federal agencies benefit from a greater chance of finding and working with the right business that can help meet a specific clean-energy need. At the same time, small businesses benefit from greater transparency and more opportunities to scale up.
The second major way we are helping small clean-energy firms is by building on a proven program.
Many agencies have ambitious goals for speeding their transition to clean energy. The Navy, for example, plans to have 50% of energy consumption – afloat and ashore – come from alternative sources by 2020. Already, Navy has led the way with its first hybrid ship launched last year and biofuel certifications for all ships and planes on track to be completed by the end of next year.
To build on that progress, we need to ensure that the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program continues to make a strong impact. This highly-competitive program draws out the best-of-the-best in Research and Development, providing about $2.5 billion annually government-wide to the most promising small firms. Importantly, about one-fourth of R&D Magazine’s “top 100” innovations in past years featured SBIR-driven products.
A significant portion of Navy’s SBIR opportunities, in particular, are in the field of clean energy. Since the first Naval Energy Forum was held two years ago, 27% of these proposed projects have focused on energy needs, with about 60 contracts of about $1.5 million each being awarded annually.
Already, one Navy SBIR awardee found a way to eliminate the need for battery power on helicopter-damage tracking systems. Pilots flying in sandstorms in the Middle East now benefit from this technology. On the other side of the world, in Hawaii, another Navy SBIR awardee created a system of high-tech buoys that harness the motions of waves to bring power back to the mainland Navy base.
These are just two examples that show why the Administration is working closely with Congress to ensure long-term reauthorization of SBIR so that small, innovative firms can continue to help America lead the way.
Truly, small firms working in clean energy are helping us out-build, out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world. At the same time, they are reducing our dependence on foreign oil, reducing our long-term energy costs, strengthening our national security, and ensuring that we leave a better world for the next generation.
By linking, leveraging, and aligning the federal government’s tools to help them, we can ensure that they continue to do all this while creating jobs and strengthening our overall economy.