Each Friday this summer, leaders from the White House and key agencies like the U.S. Small Business Administration have met with community leaders from across the country. This past Friday, I had the opportunity to speak with about 25 community leaders from a number of different states who are small business owners, as well as people who work closely with local small businesses on a daily basis. It was a great discussion.
We talked about how SBA loans have played a key role in getting credit in the hands of small business owners over the past two years when credit was virtually frozen. We also talked about the progress being made in federal contracting opportunities for small businesses. In addition, we discussed the counseling services that SBA field offices and partners provide for over 1 million clients each year.
The best part of the discussion, though, was when I heard ideas, suggestions, and feedback from community leaders themselves.
- I heard that access to capital remains a problem in underserved communities, even for businesses that are doing well and are poised for growth. We discussed new efforts like SBA’s Advantage loans to help address this problem.
- I heard that we need to make sure federal contracting officers have the tools and knowledge they need todeliver more contracts to small businesses. The Small Business Jobs Act is giving those officers a big boost, and we continue to find ways to do more.
- I heard that the entrepreneurial spirit of America’s youth is alive and well, and we must continue to harness it in order to help them create the next great American companies. We’re working to do just that at the SBA.
This direct dialogue is crucial. It’s what “good government” should be all about. That’s why I was so pleased to see business cards being exchanged not only among the attendees who were networking, but also with theSBA team members who were on-hand.
Make no mistake: This Administration firmly believes in getting input directly from America’s small business community. We’re taking their ideas and feedback to help ensure that we continue to meet the needs of America’s small business owners. After all, we know that it’s them – not us– that are the ones out there building their business and creating jobs.
Marie Johns is the Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.