SBA celebrates 65 years going to bat for small businesses


Linda McMahon

By Linda McMahon

The U.S. Small Business Administration is celebrating its 65th year as the key resource for America’s entrepreneurs as they start and grow their small businesses. As Administrator of the SBA, I’m honored to serve as head coach of a team of all-stars. So it’s fitting the SBA is being recognized at Tuesday night’s game at Nationals Park with the baseball team’s Spirit Award.

The SBA was created on July 30, 1953, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Small Business Act.  For 65 years, the agency has linked entrepreneurs to the funding, counseling and mentorship they need to succeed. It has also connected small businesses to opportunities for government contracts and provided low-interest loans to people affected by declared disasters.

It strikes me that a baseball stadium is a fitting spot to celebrate teamwork. Pitchers need good catchers, starters need solid relievers, the infield depends on a strong outfield. There’s no solo category here – baseball only exists as a team sport. Business is the same way. Entrepreneurs behind even the smallest businesses depend on advisors, attorneys, accountants, information technology specialists and the like to support their success. And the SBA depends on a “national league” of its own – a vast network of 68 district offices, lending partners, and resource partners such as the Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE chapters in communities across the country, where experienced professionals coach the rookies on skills like creating a business plan, developing their products and expanding to new markets.

I believe this is a banner season for entrepreneurship. Consider these four indicators a “grand slam” of good economic news:

  • In the second quarter of this year, the economy grew at 4.1% -- the strongest pace in four years.
  • The unemployment rate is a healthy 4 percent, with more Americans entering the job market to access the good jobs employers are now creating.
  • Workers’ pay is improving, too. As a result of the President’s tax cuts, at least 6 million workers are seeing bigger paychecks and more benefits.
  • With more money in their pockets, Americans are spending again – and that’s good news for small businesses. In surveys done by the United States Chamber of Commerce, CNBC, NFIB, and the National Association of Manufacturers, members report their highest-ever levels of optimism.

Like any good coach, I know today’s victories are no guarantee of tomorrow’s wins. It takes daily practice and an unwavering commitment to performing at peak condition. We constantly review the statistics and monitor our field reports to ensure we are delivering at a major-league level. How are we succeeding? Where could we be doing even better? What is our game plan?

After a year and a half on the job, I’ve been around the bases a few times – I’ve met with more than 700 small business owners in 41 states and visited 52 of the SBA’s 68 district offices. I have a whole roster of goals, but here’s my starting lineup:

First, I want to continue to revitalize a sense of entrepreneurship in America. I believe President Trump has set the tone for this with his pro-growth agenda. Besides the tax cuts, federal regulations are being rolled back, saving small business owners both time and money. And a new emphasis is being placed on workforce development. The President’s National Council for the American Worker, announced just this month, will play a major role promoting apprenticeships, STEM education and worker training to ensure employees have the skills employers need. This will help small businesses fill the jobs they create.

Second, I want more people to know about the resources available to them through the SBA. For the past fourteen months, I have been traveling the country on the SBA Ignite Tour, educating communities about what the SBA does. We are modernizing our outreach so all entrepreneurs see the SBA as their go-to resource that offers the right tools at the right time no matter what stage of the lifecycle their small business is in – starting out, scaling up, or getting through a tough time when disaster strikes.

Third, I want the SBA to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. Small business owners are busy – they don’t have time to navigate a confusing website or stack of redundant paperwork. We are working to streamline and modernize operations and make more resources available online.

And batting cleanup at number four – my ultimate goal is to help more people start, grow and succeed in business. Small businesses are the engines of our economy. We have 30 million of them in the U.S., and more than half the workforce either works for or owns a small business. It’s in our country’s best interest to invest in their success.

The SBA has built a solid legacy over the past 65 years. With the right energy, commitment, and focus – keeping our eye on the ball, if you will! – I’m confident our team will continue this winning streak.

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