WASHINGTON – Newly-confirmed Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet must move swiftly to create a new plan that will enable small businesses to thrive and grow in this new economy, The Greenlining Institute and its coalition said in an open letter to Contreras-Sweet delivered today.
“In the new economy, small businesses are the leading engine of U.S. innovation and job growth,” said Greenlining Institute Executive Director Orson Aguilar, “and their foremost need is access to capital and contracts. Small businesses need the continued and strong support of the Small Business Administration, and we believe they will have a strong ally with Maria at the helm of the SBA.”
Greenlining’s letter applauds the president for recently elevating the SBA administrator to Cabinet level, but expressed concern that the 23.6 percent decrease in SBA funding requested for 2015 could greatly hinder the agency. In addition to an increase in funding, Greenlining’s recommendations include:
- Increase access to capital by growing SBA lending to main street businesses and piloting an SBA direct loan program that targets businesses in areas with less access to capital.
- Build small business capacity by thinking beyond lending and focusing on entrepreneurial training and technical assistance, especially for diverse, small and micro businesses.
- Rethink SBA’s definition of “small business,” currently set at 500 employees or fewer in most circumstances. Today, 96 percent of U.S. firms have fewer than 50 employees.
- Champion diversity and community engagement by creating an office within the SBA similar to the Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion in major financial regulatory agencies. Create a community advisory board to develop policy and outreach strategies for diverse businesses.
- Promote supplier diversity by improving outreach to diverse communities, so that minority-owned businesses can better understand the process of obtaining government contracts. When possible, unbundle large contracts so that small firms can compete.
Click here to read the full letter and complete list of recommendations.
THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute