SANTA MONICA, CA – On Wednesday, July 5, 2023, Vice President Kamala Harris and SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman met with Representative Judy Chu (CA-28) in Santa Monica to highlight the Administration’s efforts to strengthen and improve the Community Advantage Program, a pilot program dedicated to providing capital for low-income borrowers and those from underserved communities. Under the SBA’s new Access to Capital rules finalized in April, the Biden-Harris Administration is providing a pathway for lenders in the pilot program to become SBA 7(a) Lenders with a new license in the Small Business Lending Company (SBLC) program.
While in Santa Monica, they toured Alfalfa Santa Monica LLC, a health-conscious, Latino-owned restaurant that benefitted from a Community Advantage loan. During the visit, Vice President Harris, Administrator Guzman, and Representative Chu met with the owners to discuss how Alfalfa Santa Monica was able to successfully use the SBA’s Community Advantage Program to help them expand from their New Jersey home and continue to provide healthy food options to communities. They also received assistance from other SBA programs, including the American Rescue Plan’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
Administrator Guzman highlighted that nearly half of all Community Advantage Lenders have applied for a new Community Advantage-SBLC (CA-SBLC) license since enrollment began on May 4, 2023 – representing more than 80% of the total loan volume in the program. The new CA-SBLC licenses will allow Community Advantage participants to expand their footprint and scale to reach even more underserved borrowers now that they can access the SBA’s flagship 7(a) lending program.
“Our small business visit today at Alfalfa in Santa Monica highlighted the economic impact of SBA’s lending to startups and underserved entrepreneurs through the Community Advantage Program,” said Administrator Guzman. “The Biden-Harris Administration has made it a priority to ensure great ideas from everywhere can access the capital and resources needed to launch and grow, and we are seeing results with record rates of new business applications. Alfalfa’s Community Advantage loan enabled them to expand to a second location, and now they have four locations with 100 employees, proving that with funding, small business dreams can become a reality.”
“I’m so honored to have Vice President Harris and Administrator Guzman here in Los Angeles to discuss the importance of SBA's Community Advantage Program—because even though small businesses are the backbone of our economy, the dream of owning one is out of reach for far too many,” said Representative Judy Chu. “When Americans, disproportionately women, people of color, and Veterans, struggle to obtain traditional loans, Community Advantage steps in to provide technical assistance and flexibility in qualifying for loans. This is an extremely successful program, which is why I've been introducing legislation over the past several years to make it permanent. I’m thrilled that the Biden-Harris Administration supports this goal and recently finalized a rule at the SBA that takes significant steps toward improving this program so that even more people can be served.”
The Community Advantage Program was created during the Obama Administration to ensure equitable access to capital for low-income borrowers, and those from underserved communities by providing mission-oriented lenders, primarily nonprofit financial intermediaries focused on economic development, access to 7(a) loan guarantees previously for loans of only $250,000 or less. The program has demonstrated success in facilitating higher rates of lending to Black, Hispanic, women, and Veteran-owned businesses. Under the Community Advantage Program, Black business owners receive 23% of SBA Community Advantage funding compared to 4% of traditional SBA 7(a) loans; Hispanic business owners receive 13% of Community Advantage loans compared to 10% of 7(a) loans. Today, 116 lenders participate in the Community Advantage Program, which made 661 loans totaling $104 million in fiscal year 2022.
In April 2023, the SBA released a final rule that granted permanence to SBA’s Community Advantage Program for nonprofit, mission-oriented lenders which have lacked long-term certainty about their participation in SBA programs due to the “pilot” status of the program. The rule also expands the number of lenders who can provide small businesses with SBA-guaranteed loans. Other changes previously introduced include:
- Extending the pilot program to September 30, 2023, providing more certainty for the Community Advantage Program, which was to end in September 2022.
- Increasing the maximum loan size, the new expanded number of lenders will be allowed to access the SBA’s 7(a) government-guaranteed loan program at lending levels up to $350,000, representing an increase over the current levels of $250,000.
- Removing harmful restrictions that excluded individuals with non-financial criminal backgrounds from accessing the Community Advantage Program.
For follow-up interview requests for Administrator Guzman, please contact Mila Myles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.