Make the Federal Government Work FOR Your Small Business

Over the last decade, small businesses across this country have been responsible for the majority of new private sector jobs, leaving little doubt that they are a vital engine for the nation’s economic growth. However, in the aftermath of the most severe economic crisis in more than 70 years, from which we are just starting to recover, small businesses are confronted with a frozen lending market and limited access to the capital they need to survive and grow.

Growing firms like yours need resources, but many small firms may have a hard time obtaining loans because they are young and have little credit history. Lenders may also be reluctant to lend to small firms with innovative products because it might be difficult to collect enough reliable information to correctly estimate the risk for such products. Often, the end result is that many of your worthy projects go unfunded.

Well, credit markets have improved and lending standards have moderated, but Congressional concern about the economy and disagreements concerning the best means to enhance job creation and economic growth remain. Fortunately, while Congress continues to argue about everything under the sun, its Members are in universal agreement that small business must be supported. Make that agreement work in your business’ favor.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers several types of programs to support small businesses, including loan guaranty and venture capital programs to enhance small business access to capital; contracting programs to increase small business opportunities in federal contracting; direct loan programs for businesses, homeowners, and renters to assist their recovery from natural disasters; and small business management and technical assistance training programs to assist business formation and expansion.

For 2015, Congress will fund and SBA will administer nearly $900 million in programs to resource your capital and technical needs in areas such as:

  • Disaster assistance;
  • Entrepreneurial development programs (including Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and SCORE);
  • Capital access programs (including the 8(a) program, the 504/Certified Development Company program, the Microloan program, International Trade and Export Promotion Loans, and the Surety Bond Guarantee program);
  • Government contracting and business development programs (including the 8(a) program, the 8(a) Minority Small Business and Capital Ownership Development program, the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones) program, the Prime Contract program, and the Subcontracting program);
  • Regional and district offices (counseling, training and outreach services);
  • Capital investment programs (including the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program, the New Market Venture Capital program, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, and the Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR); and,
  • Other programs, including export programs and veteran’s business development.

That is just the SBA! Several federal agencies are tasked with helping small businesses grow through specially-targeted programs and activities. Congressional interest in the SBA’s access-to-capital programs has increased in recent years, primarily because assisting small business in accessing capital is viewed as a means to enhance job creation and economic growth.

We have a saying here in Washington D.C. that the federal government either does work FOR you or TO you. I’m sure you’d agree that the former is better! Take advantage of the opportunities to make the next leap in growing your business.