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My Inspirational First Month at SBA

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My Inspirational First Month at SBA

By Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator
Published: May 9, 2014

One month ago, I took my oath and was given the opportunity of a lifetime to be a champion for America’s small businesses.

In my first public statement after my swearing-in, I talked about my intention to support our job creators and build the U.S. economy from the middle out; to promote lending that reflects the diversity of America by getting capital to the areas that need it the most; and to use technology and best practices in customer service to make it easier for borrowers to borrow and lenders to lend.

Then, I immediately embarked on a listening tour to send a signal to entrepreneurs that I wanted a robust dialogue and open lines of communication to understand the range of challenges that America’s small businesses owners face.

It has been an exhilarating first month. On my third day on the job, I defended our FY15 budget before the Senate. I went to to the Pentagon to meet with transitioning service members taking an SBA course on how to apply their military skills to civilian entrepreneurship. And I visited Washington state to accelerate the deployment of disaster aid to businesses and families impacted by the devastating mudslide.

I testified at a field hearing that explored how small business R&D can create more high-growth, high-paying jobs. Then, I met with military leaders to make sure the Department of Defense is making procurement decisions that harness the incredible innovation happening at small firms. I traveled to Baltimore and Boise to talk to emerging leaders and women-owned businesses about how to plug into federal contracting opportunities and earn business from the world’s top buyer of goods and services: the United States government.

I sat down with women and minority entrepreneurs to hear about their challenges in getting access to capital, and I shared their stories this past week at two major lending conferences to explain SBA regulatory changes that will make it easier to get capital to neighborhoods the recession left behind.  We dropped the so-called “wealth test” and “nine-month rule,” and we announced more collateral flexibility for our borrowers. These important technical changes will all increase the number of small businesses that qualify for SBA assistance.

At each stop, I’ve evangelized the SBA message of “three Cs and a D” – our work to deliver capital, contracts, counseling and disaster assistance, which comprise the core of this agency’s mission.

My listening tour continues Monday with the kickoff of National Small Business Week at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. Soon, I’ll sit down with our exceptional SBA staff and begin the process of taking the insights gleaned from my time on the road to develop an action plan to take our agency to the next level.

But as I reflect on an eventful first month, the word that stays in my head is “inspirational.” As our field team knows so well, our work does more than help America’s small businesses succeed and our economy grow. So often, what we’re really doing is empowering our entrepreneurs to give back and lift up entire communities.

We’re helping women like Dr. Carla Thomas serve generations of families in her hometown of Inglewood, California. Less than four percent of this nation’s dentists are African American, but with a real estate loan backed by SBA, Dr. Thomas now has her own building and a thriving practice three miles from the house where she grew up. She stayed “home” to provide dental care to local children and generations of families who need her. Dr. Thomas calls her practice “The Smile Studio.” Watch the video above, and you’ll see why her unique commitment to give back in Inglewood gives us all a reason to smile.

About the Author:

Maria Contreras-Sweet

SBA Administrator

Maria Contreras-Sweet is the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA helps both Main Street and high-growth small businesses get access to capital, counseling, federal contracts, disaster assistance and more.

Comments:

Thanks for taking the time to talk about this, I feel fervently about this and I take pleasure in learning about this topic. Please, as you gain information, please update this blog with more information. I have found it very useful. There have to be charging stations everywhere.
Well it seems like Maria Contreras is really supporting SBA policy from every angle & rather trying to create an environment where accessibility of any financial assistance can be much faster & easier for small business holder. Also upliftment of women entrepreneurs seems to holds importance now. Hoping to see great reforms in coming weeks.
YES SBA provides a really great resource for small businesses and large also
Ms. Contreras-Sweet, In the last seven years the SBA has been moving aggressively away from helping the 98% of businesses in America with 0-19 employees (28 million out of 28.2, including non-employer). What will you do to reverse this trend? From 2008 to 2013, Karen Mills led the largest expansion in the definition of "small" since the SBA's inception 61 years ago. According to Terry Sutherland in the SBA Press Office, this allowed 66,000 large corporations to be reclassified as small. That expansion is continuing to this day. Will you stop it? How has it hurt the 98%? In 2008, the average SBA loan was $180,000 and 24% of them were under $100,000. These are the loans the 98% needs in order to grow. But by 2013, the average SBA loan is now a bloated $485,000 and less than 9% of SBA loans are under $100,000 (Sutherland, SBA). The banks and the SBA have instead focused on lending money to very large businesses with 500+ employees and $30+million in revenue masquerading as small. This expanded definition has allowed the SBA to tout increased lending, but it's not going to the 98%, only to the 2% Your office is continuing to oversee the expansion of the definition of "small". Will you stop it? If not, why? How, in anyone's sane definition of small, is a company with 500 employees, "small"? That puts them in the elite, top 00.06% of all businesses. Mills also got in bed with the venture capitalists and started new initiatives that put $2billion in the pockets of vc's and took it away from the general fund of the SBA - that money is not directly available to ANY small business, only to vc's. No vc will ever invest in a true small business with 0-19 employees like a plumber, restaurant or retail shop. How is focusing on this tiny and elite segment showing an interest in the 98%? Please help us see how you plan to return the SBA to a focus on true small businesses with 0-19 employees. The 98% have been left behind in favor of the 2% of the largest businesses in America. Will you reverse that trend or enable it? We look forward to your answer.
You can explain this lines please? "How has it hurt the 98%? In 2008, the average SBA loan was $180,000 and 24% of them were under $100,000. These are the loans the 98% needs in order to grow. But by 2013, the average SBA loan is now a bloated $485,000 and less than 9% of SBA loans are under $100,000 (Sutherland, SBA). The banks and the SBA have instead focused on lending money to very large businesses with 500+ employees and $30+million in revenue masquerading as small. This expanded definition has allowed the SBA to tout increased lending, but it's not going to the 98%, only to the 2%"

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