Tag Archive for 'small business administration'

Celebrating my 12th consecutive Small Business Week in D.C.

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.

Small business capital acquisition even when the credit market stinks

This isn’t my first rodeo. The current recession is my 7th one to work in since 1969. As I have noted several times in the past few months, the single greatest difference between this downturn and others is the collapse of the credit sector resulting in a steep reduction of credit availability to consumers and businesses. In every other economic crisis since the Great Depression, when consumers and businesses wanted to make a purchase requiring some level of credit, there has always been a healthy and motivated credit industry standing by to help put purchaser and seller together. Not this time.

And this challenge is no respecter of size: Pharmaceutical players no less than Pfizer and Wyeth had to cobble together transactions from five banks in order to finalize their merger.

Thankfully there are some bright spots for established small businesses. Independent community banks are still lending to small businesses that have, or want, a relationship with those institutions. Credit unions are still hanging in there and expanding their influence with businesses. But for the most part, consumer credit firms and the big banks are MIA.

Notice my qualification word “established” in the previous paragraph. In my 2009 predictions, I said that, unlike previous recessions, the current credit dearth will not be kind to small business start-ups, which historically have relied heavily on the founders’ personal credit lines, including home equity, to capitalize their new small business baby. Consequently – and sadly – start-ups will not play as large a part in this economic recovery as they have in others.

Also in my 2009 predictions, I said that the Obama administration would deploy part of its stimulus efforts through the Small Business Administration. The president should expand the influence of this well established channel to help small businesses acquire the capital they need through their local banks, and I think this will come to pass.

Recently on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, iBank founder and Brain Trust member, Tom Markel, (www.iBank.com)talked about the state of the credit landscape, plus his own proposal for what he thinks President Obama should do for small businesses in his first 100 days in office. Be sure to listen to the wisdom of this important voice on small business capital acquisition, including his multi-step small business stimulus proposal for President Obama. And don’t forget to leave a comment.




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