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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

SBA: reinstate fund for minority businesses

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Last month, the Census Bureau reported that the number of minority-owned businesses increased by 46 percent from 2002 to 2007. This is good news. These new businesses are creating jobs and driving local economic growth all across the country.

However, this is no time to lessen our commitment or resources available to help minority small businesses grow and create jobs.

At the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), we are leveraging our three core mission areas – access to capital, opportunities in federal contracting, and business counseling – to build on the growth we’ve seen in minority business ownership.

Minority-owned firms struggle with access to capital, and when they do receive a loan, it is often too small, or the interest is too high. That’s why, according to the Urban Institute, minority small businesses are three- to five-times more likely to get a loan if it is guaranteed by the SBA.

Moreover, enhancements made possible by the Recovery Act have helped SBA provide support for more than 14,000 Recovery loans, worth $5 billion, to minority-owned small firms. President Obama has called on Congress to extend funding for these successful Recovery loan programs, which ran out several weeks ago, resulting in a 60 percent drop in SBA lending. Lenders and small business owners have also been clear: now is not the time to pull back.

The Recovery Act has also been a critical tool in helping minority-owned small firms compete for and win federal contracts. Already, billions of dollars in Recovery contracts have been awarded to socially- and economically-disadvantaged firms that participate in SBA’s 8(a) Program.

Meanwhile, the SBA and its resource partners train and counsel hundreds of thousands of minority business owners each year.

Throughout the month of August, minority business owners have been learning about the tools and resources available to them at Minority Enterprise Development Week events across the country. At events in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., minority business owners can network, learn from each other, and find out ways to grow their business and create jobs.

As one of the fastest growing segments of the small business community, minority-owned businesses are key to the strength of our economy and our global competitiveness. From loans, to contracting, to counseling and business development, SBA will continue to ensure that minority-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs continue to have the tools to grow, drive our economy, and create jobs.

Marie Johns is deputy administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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