Two years ago today, I had the distinct honor of being sworn in as Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. I was surrounded by my family – my husband, children, and six grandchildren – in Vice President Pence’s ceremonial office. My mother in Connecticut even joined the ceremony via video conference! As I took the oath of office with all six grandkids holding the Bible upon which I placed my hand, I can truly say it was one of the proudest moments of my life.
Over the past two years, I have been very proud to be part of the SBA family as well. The team welcomed me with kindness and enthusiasm, and their experience and knowledge have been invaluable to my leadership of this Agency.
It is a privilege to serve our country. And as an entrepreneur myself, I feel tremendous responsibility to America’s small businesses. The SBA is their advocate and ally, and we all play a part in helping them succeed. This team of professionals is dedicated to helping America’s 30 million small businesses start, grow, expand and recover. Together, we power the American Dream. As I begin my third year as Administrator, I’d like to share some of the accomplishments we have achieved:
- SBA Ignite Tour: I have visited all 68 of our District Offices in all 50 states. The field staff worked hard to make these visits a success. I have met with more than 800 small business owners nationwide – fly fishing in Montana, sampling craft beers in Oregon, and touring a racecar factory in Indiana. The diversity of our economy and the innovation of our small business owners prove the entrepreneurial spirit of this country is alive and well. And every business, every industry, every state has its own unique needs. As their advocate in Washington, it has been of paramount importance that I hear from them directly and understand their concerns.
- SBA Reimagined: Thanks to the extensive input from members of our team, I am working to ensure all 68 District Offices and our headquarters are operating as one SBA, with a renewed focus on the constituents we serve. All offices now have the same outreach materials, the same messaging, and the same clear mission of supporting America’s small businesses.
- Disaster Assistance: The 2017-2018 hurricane season saw the most activity since 2005. As I meet with small business owners and families whose lives and livelihoods have been upended by hurricanes and other disasters, I am grateful for the hard work of our Office of Disaster Assistance. The SBA has so far approved more than 144,000 low-interest loans totaling $7.3 billion to survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria – while cutting the approval time almost in half
- Job Creation: In FY 2018, the SBA has approved more than 65,000 loans totaling more than $30 billion, which have helped create 670,000 jobs. I’m proud that a streamlined application process and a new online tool, Lender Match, are helping entrepreneurs connect with lending partners and get the funding they need to start and grow businesses.
We are now working on more exciting initiatives to help small businesses: workforce development through increased partnerships with the departments of Education and Labor; an increase in rural lending through a partnership with the Dept. of Agriculture; and support for government contracting through the continued implementation of Certify.sba.gov. We will work to support international trade through increased loan opportunities and a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which for the first time includes special conditions for small businesses, including intellectual property protections. This spring, we will also launch a new interactive digital platform aimed at helping more than 1 million women start and grow businesses.
It’s an honor to represent not only the 30 million small businesses we serve, but the thousands of SBA employees who work hard every day to meet their needs.