Expanded SBA programs provide good bang for buck

  • By Calvin W. Goings Small Business Administration
  • Thursday, July 26, 2012 9:41am

To help our nation recover from the biggest recession since the Great Depression, the U.S. Small Business Administration stepped in and has supported more than 150,000 small businesses since 2009 with more than $79 billion. To make this possible, we brought more than 1,000 community lenders back to SBA lending for the first time since 2007 and we secured a $20 billion commitment to increase small-business lending over the next three years from 13 of the largest banks.

These steps culminated in a record year for SBA in 2011. We supported more than $30 billion in lending to more than 60,000 small businesses. During the same time period, lenders in the state of Washington loaned more than $793 million to 1,672 small businesses. This volume reflects an increase of nearly $250 million over fiscal year 2010.

SBA also provided small businesses with the tools they needed to help lead us out of the recession and into recovery. However, because there are still gaps in the marketplace, SBA is creating new products to provide more access and opportunity while streamlining and simplifying the process to make it easier for our customers.

Starting in June 2012, SBA revised portions of the Small Loan Advantage (SLA) program making the application process easier, expanding the number of qualified lenders and increasing the loan cap. The SLA program is structured to encourage lenders to make small-dollar loans, which often benefit small businesses in underserved markets. The SLA program simplifies and streamlines paperwork, making it more cost effective for lenders.

It can be tough for small businesses to manage their cash flow. They’ve got payrolls to meet, inventory to buy and customers to please. A revolving line of credit could help small businesses manage their cash cycle. This is why SBA also re-engineered the Capital Lines (CAPLines) program.

Today, small businesses often compete for contracts to help them scale up and create jobs. One of the biggest “growing pains” associated with winning a new contract is that the business often does not have the necessary cash on hand to hire workers and buy materials to help fulfill the order. CAPLines provides a path for these small businesses to finance contracts while avoiding high-interest rates through an SBA revolving line of credit.

In addition, small businesses that use the CAPLines program will benefit from the new increased SBA 7(a) loan limit of $5 million, which went into effect with the Small Business Jobs Act. These larger loan sizes will help small businesses that are poised to win bigger contracts, creating jobs as a result and an economy that’s built to last.

We know how important small businesses are to the economy. Over the last 15 years, small businesses created two out of every three net new private-sector jobs. Half of all American workers own or work for a small business. And we’re counting on small businesses to drive our economy to a full recovery.

SBA is here to help, and we are constantly looking for ways to provide access and opportunity to the American small-business owner. SBA loans are a smart public-private partnership and they’re a powerful bang for the taxpayer buck.

Calvin Goings is assistant associate administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C.