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How Can the SBA Help Your Spa?

Posted: September 8, 2010

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I travel around the country and I talk to small-business owners all the time--it's actually one of my favorite things. What I tell them is they should get into our counseling network first. We have 1,100 Small Business Development Centers. We have 110 Women's Business Centers. We have a whole network of SCORE counselors you can even access online. As you work with them to develop your business plan and your loan package, you can make yourself much more clear in your presentation and, therefore, much more likely to be bankable.

Which funding sources are most accessible for small businesses?

We have microloans. We have 170 intermediaries making microloans. We have about 5,000 banks who have SBA loans, and there are a variety of SBA loans, depending on the purpose of the loan, whether it's to buy a building or whether it's to finance inventory. So the most important thing is coming into the situation with a clear idea of what it is you want to do to grow your business. Then the SBA will partner with you to try to get you the tools you need.

Despite all of that, the SBA has its critics--people who wonder if the agency has lost sight of its mission and its relevance for small businesses in America. This is a fantastic agency and it is highly relevant to small businesses and to the economy. The first indication is that we were able to put $25 billion into the hands of small businesses over this recession and really fill part of this credit gap that existed because of the financial crisis. But, in addition, we have bone structure--a network all across this country that's extremely powerful.

In most communities, we are extremely relevant to both Main Street small businesses and to young entrepreneurs. The president has really made small business a priority, so that the SBA under President Obama has enormous support. He really understands that small business is part of the way to middle-class prosperity.

How has the climate in Washington changed for small business and entrepreneurs?

This president has been moving strongly to help small business from the start. When the president and Congress passed the Recovery Act, this was critical to allowing the SBA to increase our loan guarantees to 90% and reduce or eliminate the fees.