Here I am, in Washington, D.C., at my 12th consecutive celebration of National Small Business Week. Since 1998, I’ve been supporting the U.S. Small Business Administration as America honors its small businesses. Each year, like this one, the recognition includes over 50 small business champions from across the country.
Karen Mills, the new SBA Administrator, is my fourth one to work with, going back to Aida Alvarez, with the Clinton administration; and as I write, Ms. Mills is delivering her keynote speech at the SBW celebration. Among her first comments was to announce the American Recovery Capital (ARC) program that is a new loan program for viable businesses that need some short-term capital assistance during this recession.
ARC is designed to guarantee 100% of a loan made by a local lender, like a bank or credit union, to a qualified small business. The loan amount is up to $35,000, there are no fees, no interest or payments for 12 months and up to 60 months to repay, plus a few other details.
I think this is a great program - and much needed - but my concern is one that I’ve had for a long time: Not enough small business owners know about the SBA, what it does, how to access SBA resources, or how to coordinate the small business’ requirements, its bank and the SBA. Alas, the greatest program in the world won’t succeed if it isn’t widely distributed. One of the challenges Administrator Mills faces is getting the SBA airing in prime time on Main Street.
The Administrator also talked about health care reform. As you may know, I do not support more government involvement in the health care industry. We need more market-based solutions and less government. I look forward to an honest debate on this issue with Administrator Mills over the next few months on the radio.
Speaking of which, earlier today I talked about Small Business Week on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. Take a few minutes to listen to my thoughts and, of course, leave your own comments.