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Making It Easier for Small Businesses to Make it in America

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Making It Easier for Small Businesses to Make it in America

By Karen Mills, Former SBA Administrator
Published: March 21, 2012 Updated: March 22, 2012

Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s, and our manufacturers are more productive today than ever. That’s good news for America’s producers, but it’s also good news up and down the supply chain.

Everybody benefits when manufacturing is going strong. In fact, studies show that each dollar invested in manufacturing creates $2.41 in total economic output. And, for every new job created in the manufacturing sector, another two jobs are created in the surrounding community.

Made in America is strong and getting stronger, and President Obama is doing everything he can to make sure that these three proud words are still number one.

Today, I am highlighting a new administration-wide effort to support American manufacturing, which we call the American Supplier Initiative. This initiative invests in America’s small suppliers—the legions of small businesses which make the parts and services that go into the final products you and I buy every day.

As part of this initiative, I showcased one of the major tools at an event with Dick Parsons, Chairman of Citi and a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and Stan Litow, President of the IBM Foundation, to announce a collaboration between the SBA and a private sector-led application called Supplier Connection.

Created by the IBM Foundation, Supplier Connection is a free online common application that allows small businesses to simultaneously send information about their products and services to private sector buyers. These buyers include fifteen household brands (AMD, AT &T, Bank of America, Caterpillar, Citi Group, Dell, Facebook, IBM, JP Morgan Chase, John Deere, Kellogg’s, Office Depot, Pfizer, UPS, and Wells Fargo), with a combined purchasing power of $300 billion each year. Over the coming months, we anticipate even more large companies will be added.

Supplier Connection removes barriers that small businesses face in trying to break into large company supply chains. It also gives large companies exposure to a more diverse array of suppliers, so they can get the best, most innovative suppliers America has to offer. This is especially important for America’s small businesses. Recent reports show that small suppliers can more than triple revenue growth and more than double job growth only a few years after becoming a large company supplier. I recently sent a letter to over 50,000 small businesses in SBA’s network to highlight the uses of tools like Supplier Connection.

These efforts build on the Obama administration’s existing actions to make it easier for small suppliers to make it in America. At the SBA, we maintain an online database that helps small suppliers search for the $70 billion in Federal sub-contracting opportunities posted by large prime contractors and other non-federal agencies, which we call SUB-Net. Earlier this year, we also announced significantly expanded outreach efforts to educate America’s small suppliers on SBA’s International Trade Loan program, which offers a 90% loan guarantee on loans up to $5 million, and can help small suppliers get the financing they need to bring jobs home.

Over the coming weeks, we will roll out a number of other tools that address big challenges small firms face in trying to sell goods and services to larger companies. These efforts will include ways to help small businesses gain greater access to capital, counseling and mentoring services, and workforce skills training, all of which small firms need to be reliable suppliers.

Today, American consumers are buying more of what we make here at home and our companies are selling more to competitors abroad. And, make no mistake -- it’s not just that we are making more goods here at home; we are making better goods here at home. I recently visited a small business in Minneapolis, Minnesota that makes precision machine parts for the aviation, aerospace, and defense industries, and serves as a leading supplier to Lockheed Martin. The custom parts manufactured in that factory will go into next-generation planes that are lighter, faster, and more fuel-efficient.

That’s the new face of American manufacturing - an industry that is entrepreneurial, high-tech, value-added and globally oriented - and, a sector of great opportunity, growth and promise for our nation.

President Obama understands that America’s success was built by the grit and resolve of our manufacturers. In the 20th century, American inventors, makers and doers helped create the largest middle class the world has ever known.

Today, the manufacturing sector is poised for a renaissance. That’s why the Obama administration is doing everything we can to seize this moment, to put more people back to work, and to show the world, yet again, what America can do.

About the Author:

Karen Mills

Former SBA Administrator

Karen Gordon Mills is the Former 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.


While these efforts sound great, the administration must do more to provide small businesses the certainty they need to grow. For example, the administration continues to avoid fundamental tax reform. They keeping bringing up gimmicks like the Buffet Rule but not addressing the larger issue. Small businesses in this country need a simpler, fairer tax system.
Insightful article! I personally make sure that I know where products I purchase are made and encourage my family and friends to do so as well. Bringing manufacturing jobs back to America is a wonderful cause, currently being spearheaded by GE.
I really appreciate your posts here.I have bookmarked your site. Hope for the great future of America.

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