The diversity of our booming economy and the innovation of America’s small business owners are proof that the entrepreneurial spirit of this country is alive and well. America’s 30 million small businesses are in capable hands with U.S. Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon who recently wrapped up a two-year Ignite Tour, visiting all 68 SBA district offices and meeting with more than 800 entrepreneurs across the country.
When President Trump appointed Administrator McMahon to serve on his Cabinet and lead the SBA, one of her first priorities was to get out of Washington and travel to every SBA district office to understand how SBA’s programs and services are delivered to our small business communities.
The administrator witnessed the efficiency and effectiveness of the dedicated and hardworking staff in each field office. She heard directly from small business owners and entrepreneurs about their many successes and challenges. The overall tone of the meetings was one of consensus building and collaboration between her and the small business owners and community leaders she met with. In addition to meeting with agency staff and speaking to entrepreneurs, Administrator McMahon also interviewed with television, radio and newspapers across the country to promote the message of SBA. She says continually that the SBA should be a household word and no longer a “best kept secret.”
It is refreshing to see this kind of leadership coming out of Washington DC. I was able to accompany the Administrator on a few visits to multiple locations throughout my five state region. At every visit, the administrator showed a genuine interest and passion for the people she met with and the issues or successes they conveyed to her. Part of Administrator McMahon’s mission is to relay small businesses’ unique needs to Congress and the President.
In the last two years SBA programs have supported the growth of more than 1.2 million jobs nationwide. In the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas SBA’s programs and services are helping to support more than 144,300 jobs.
The people I met on these Ignite tour stops reinforced to me that the SBA plays a critical role in supporting our nation’s economy and the lives of many small business owners. Every business and every industry in each state revealed its own unique needs. With consumer optimism reaching all-time highs, more small businesses and entrepreneurs are relying on the programs and services available through the SBA.
1. Access to Federal Contracts. The SBA also plays a major role in connecting small businesses with federal contracting opportunities. In my region, small businesses have been awarded nearly $21.5 billion in federal contracts in over the last two years.
2. Access to Technical Know-how. The SBA powers a network of counselors who provide technical expertise to those looking to start or grow a business. Our Resource Partners which include Small Business Development Centers, Women Business Centers, Veteran Business Outreach Centers and SCORE Counselors to America’s Small Businesses provide incubator opportunities, mentoring, and specialized services for veteran, woman- and minority-owned businesses. Across the nation, these resource partners served more than 1.8 million people.
3. Disaster Recovery. Finally, when a disaster strikes, the SBA offers direct recovery assistance that can lift entire communities including large businesses, homeowners and nonprofit organizations. In Region 6, SBA processed more than 68,800 disaster loans under the Trump Administration that will inject nearly $5 billion into disaster affected communities, across the five-state region.
I am honored to serve with Administrator McMahon and especially honored to serve the small business communities in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. A strong leader at the SBA is good for business, especially small businesses located in rural areas. It remains true that small business continues to drive our nation’s economy. For more information on SBA’s programs and services please visit www.sba.gov , and remember to follow us on Twitter @SBASouthCentral.
(Justin Crossie is the regional administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s South Central Region which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.)