The Small Business Administration Offers Many Programs to Support Businesses
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a number of programs to support economic development and workforce development for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Martin Short is the Lead Economic Development Specialist and Public Information Officer for the Small Business Administration Richmond District Office.
“Small business is the backbone of our economy,” says Short. “It employs the most people. It’s very important that we have a strong, comprehensive support program for entrepreneurs and small business owners, because they’re the ones who are making opportunities happen and they’re the ones who are creating jobs for people and that level of self sufficiency is what really benefits everyone in the long run.”
The Small Business Administration has four core programs. The first two are Counseling and Government Contracting.
“We provide counseling,” says Short. “Counseling to those who have an interest in starting a business or counseling those who are already in business, meaning a small business. The second piece we offer is Government Contracting. Government Contracting consists of those who have an interest in selling or doing business with the government. It’s a great program for those who want to expand their base of customers.”
The other two programs are Lending and Disaster.
“We have a Loan Program,” says Short. “We don’t loan money directly. How it works is, we have a portfolio of lenders that do SBA loans. How that is arranged is, if you want to borrow to expand your business or get your business going, you go sit down with a lender. You apply and the lender sends the information over to us and we say ‘Ok yes, we can back this loan’ and the lender comes back and he provides an approval. The other program we have is Disaster. We’ve been dealing with a pandemic for two years now and so a lot of programs came out of that. Economic resource programs and these programs came out based on the dilemma that we were in, COVID-19. Now typically, when you think of a disaster, you are thinking about a storm of some sort. That’s where Disaster does most of it’s work. When there is a Presidential Declared Disaster in an area, we will have a team to mobilize to that particular area and that’s where we provide loans directly. We make loans to businesses, small businesses, non-profits, homeowners, renters, people in the military. So, that is designed to get people back up and running again. And that is done in conjunction with FEMA too, to some extent.”
The Small Business Administration also has resource partners that provide technical assistance. The Small Business Development Center, the Women’s Business Center, to support women entrepreneurs, the Veterans Business Outreach Center, to support veteran entrepreneurs, SCORE, that provides one on one counseling and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, that provides support for the government contracting process.
“With these resources, we are able to meet people everywhere, no matter where they are,” says Short. “If they are located in a rural community or if they are located in an urban community. These resources are able to address some of those unique challenges that anyone can possibly have when we are talking about running or starting a business.”
You can learn about all of these resources and programs by visiting the Small Business Administration website at www.sba.gov