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The State of Small Business is Stronger than Ever

Advisory Date: 
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Advisory Number: 

By:  Cassius F. Butts, Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration

The message is loud and clear. Our state of small business in the Southeast Region is strong. I had the privilege of presenting the 2016 SBA State of the Region Address live from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. The event was streamed across the region and nation, and the message that was presented should make every small business owner feel encouraged.

We have seen 71 consecutive months of adding jobs to the economy helping to create thousands of jobs in the southeast this past year, supported $5.5 BILLION in SBA-backed lending, and $2.4 billion in 8(a) contracts was awarded, all in one year across the Southeast.

The state of this region is best described through the accomplishments of each of the nine district offices in the Southeast Region. Doing the math, our region accounts for over a quarter of the loans approved in this country.  The historic increase in lending is a direct result of the SBA's newly streamlined programs such as LINC and SBAOne as well as the dedication of the SBA lenders.

We have increased our lending to women, something that has been a priority for me. This year, 19% more SBA-backed loans have gone to women-owned small business in this nation, and we have seen a 29% increase in the Southeast Region. We are reaching deeper in to our communities through initiatives such as InnovateHER and ChallengeHER and our Women’s Business Centers are counseling and training entrepreneurs every day.

Nearly 100 Strategic Alliance have been produced with community based organizations to help increase the visibility of our assistance and reach untapped, underserved markets, and these relationships are growing every day.

In addition, we have reached our seasoned entrepreneurs through the Encore Entrepreneur initiative in each of the 9 districts in the Southeastern Region. The age 50+ business-driven community has embraced the idea of reaching their entrepreneurial dreams- it is never too late to start.

The SBA has embraced the technology trend that has hit America. We have seen many small businesses receive Accelerator Grant funds as well as SBIR/STTR Innovative research grants. Our goal is transparent. We have realized that in order to create a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, we must invest in small business.

I am delighted to report that loans to Veterans in our region are up $160 million over the past year. Part of the increase is attributed to the Veterans Advantage Initiative, which reduced all upfront fees to zero for veteran loans up to $350,000. We can also attribute the increase in veteran activity to the Boots to Business Program.

Nearly 225,000 entrepreneurs have been counseled and trained in the Southeast through our SBA district offices and our resource partners: the Small Business Development Centers, SCORE Chapters as well as the Women’s Business Centers.

Government Contracting has brought small businesses to places they never dreamed imaginable, and $91 billion dollars in contracts went to small businesses across the nation last year. The SBA's 8(a) Business Development Program is at an all-time high, $2.4 billion in 8(a) contracts alone were awarded to 8(a) firms last year in our region.

Our state of small business is stronger than ever, but there is still work to do to remain on this trajectory of success. Let's continue to work together, encourage together and succeed together. Let's continue this journey of success and keep the state of our region strong!