Serving Underserved Communities
How the SBA Serves Underserved Communities By Calvin W. Goings Regional Administrator Each January we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Each February we celebrate the important milestones highlighted by Black History Month—reaffirming our commitment to helping individuals across this nation achieve the promise of the American dream. At the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), we recognize that many Americans today continue to struggle to fulfill this American dream, especially in underserved communities. That is why we remain committed to lifting–up these small businesses, especially in Region 10, so they can grow and create jobs. Although many underserved communities—which can include inner cities, rural areas and populations such as women, minorities, veterans, tribal groups and others—were disproportionately affected by this recession, the fact remains that minority-owned businesses and women-owned businesses are some of the fastest growing segments of the economy. Together with our resource partners, SBA is engaged at every level to help small businesses reach their full potential. Loan Programs Small business owners are often faced with the challenge of accessing capital. SBA can help by facilitating a loan with a third party lender, guaranteeing a bond, or helping businesses find venture capital. For example, SBA’s Small Loan Advantage Program (SLA 2.0) offers lenders the opportunity to invest in neighborhoods hit hardest by the recession and streamlines the process to get more loans into the hands of small businesses. For more information and a complete listing of SBA’s loan products, visit http://www.sba.gov/content/sba-loans. Free Counseling Starting a business can be daunting. SBA is uniquely positioned to help find ways to start and grow small businesses, and to connect owners with local assistance needed. Along with our resource partners (which include Small Business Development Centers, Women Business Centers, SCORE, Veterans Business Centers and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers) we are committed to assisting small business owners with the challenges faced at each stage of development. Visit www.sba/direct or contact your local District Office to learn about our programs and partners. Government Contracting Nearly $100 billion worth of government contracts are available to small businesses each year. SBA can help small businesses compete for set-aside contracts in the federal marketplace through programs such as the Women Owned Business Certification Program, HUBZone Certification Program, and the 8(a) Business Development Program. For example, the 8(a) Program offers socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs assistance in gaining a foothold in government contracting. The program does not obtain contracts for small businesses, instead it helps small businesses position themselves to compete in the federal marketplace. Interested in learning more about how SBA can help your business? Staying connected is a key to success. Follow us on Twitter (@SBAPacificNW) or Facebook (SBAPacificNW), and explore what SBA has to offer at www.sba.gov.