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Entrepreneurial Equality

New Tools for a More Inclusive SBA

On June 10, 2014, the SBA Administrator Contreras-Sweet outlined her priorities and goals for the SBA during a speech at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. And for the past few days, more details about specific programs have been issued by the SBA.

She outlined three priorities: be modern, be inclusive, and make new markets. That translates into modernizing the capital access programs with technology; creating a more inclusive SBA by tailoring programs that embrace our nation’s dynamic demographics; and serve as a “market maker” for small companies by opening new business channels within the federal government, corporate supply chains, and international commerce.

For more details, read her full comments.

Thank you, Neera, for that kind introduction and to the entire team at the Center for American Progress for hosting us today.

I recently received a call that would change my life and move my husband and me across the country. Two months ago, President Obama tasked me with three objectives: run an effective SBA, be a strong voice for America’s small businesses, and take the agency to the next level. I embraced this exciting and worthy mission, knowing small businesses are the backbone of our economy.

Small firms make up 99.7 percent of American employers. They generate two out of three net, new private sector jobs and account for half of all private sector employment. The future of our country is truly in the hands of the American entrepreneur.

SBA programs are infusing dollars into local markets to improve the domestic economy. Entrepreneurs inject capital into the economy more quickly as they cover payroll, buy equipment, and acquire real estate. Not only is SBA-backed capital more likely to be spent at home than abroad, but it’s also circulated faster in local communities, spurring more economic activity. With this in mind, I am eager for this opportunity to be leading the SBA.

You see I immigrated to this country from Guadalajara at the age of five, not speaking a word of English. My mother worked at a poultry processing plant so her six children could have opportunities she never had. My life’s journey has been one of seizing opportunities to help my family and build my community.

From grade-school hall monitor, to corporate executive, to California Cabinet Secretary, to bank founder, to now, a member of the President’s Cabinet, I was taught it’s not the titles we have that matters, it’s what we do with the titles we have. I’m living my American Dream. Now, I want every entrepreneur to live theirs.

I joined this Administration because President Obama is committed to providing equal opportunity and creating new pathways to the middle class. I know how committed he is to creating opportunities for small business owners. He has demonstrated this by cutting their taxes 18 times. He has created billions of dollars in tax credits, write-offs and deductions for those who start businesses, buy equipment and machinery, and invest in start-ups. He has made quality, affordable health insurance available to small business owners and their employees. Under this administration, SBA eliminated pages of regulations that were clogging the capital pipeline and causing more problems than they were solving. And we zeroed out fees on loans under $150,000, which has led to a 15 percent increase in our small dollar lending.

In my first two months on the job I have met with our field offices, our program leaders and with stakeholders – in Congress, the business community, our resource partners – all to strengthen our relationships and enhance our programs. Their insights and contributions have been invaluable, and we’ve already begun to act on their suggestions. In my first month, we removed regulatory obstacles to our real estate and equipment financing, and we launched a new national call center for Certified Development Companies to expedite 504 real estate loans.

Today, all of the jobs lost in the Great Recession have been recovered, yet our nation still faces a profound challenge: capital is not reaching small business owners equitably. The face of entrepreneurship is changing in America. More of those faces today belong to women, Latinos, African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, veterans, seniors, and business owners who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Too many in these groups cannot access the requisite expansion capital. Your gender, your race, your age, or your neighborhood should never impact whether you can get a small business loan. Only your creditworthiness should.

At the SBA, we will assure a continuum of support, especially for our underserved businesses.We’ll expand access to our core programs, we refer to as the “three Cs” – capital, consultation and contracting. And it goes without saying we’ll remain focused on our disaster assistance programs, so homeowners and business owners can access our help when they need us the most.

To advance our work on behalf of America’s entrepreneurs, I’m focusing my initial efforts in three areas. First, we will modernize and implement smart systems, so the SBA keeps pace with technological advances that are changing how we do banking and conduct business. To encourage our lending partners to provide more capital to Main Street, we will automate our credit analysis using predictive systems. Second, we will create a more inclusive SBA by tailoring programs that embrace our nation’s dynamic demographics. Third, we will serve as a “market maker” for small companies by opening new business channels within the federal government, corporate supply chains, and international commerce. We will be modern. We will be inclusive. And we will make new markets. This is how we’ll move the dial for entrepreneurs from all walks of American life.

Let’s explore these points more fully. First, we’re going to modernize our capital access programs to the new ways Americans are accessing financial services, and technology is the key. The prevailing challenge we face has been that our loan documentation is too complex and labor-intensive, forcing banks to hire specialized staff or contract it out – or walk away from the loan. We cannot afford to lose these partners and turn job creators away.

The time has come to reach out to all of our lending partners on small loans and bring new lenders into the SBA fold. To augment loan volume and multiply points of sale, I’m pleased to announce that we’re transforming into a smart system guarantee process to serve businesses better. Our Office of Capital Access has been testing and refining a predictive business credit scoring model for more than a decade, combining an entrepreneur’s personal and business credit scores. SBA’s total credit score will make it easier and less time-intensive for banks to do business with the SBA. This model is cost-reducing and credit-based. It ensures that risk characteristics – not socio-economic factors – determine who is deemed creditworthy.

We’re now so confident of our model’s predictive value on small loans that we’re eliminating cumbersome and impeding analyses of a company’s cash flow, a step that can delay loan decisions. Effective next month, I’m directing that SBA’s total credit scoring model be made available to all our lending partners for loans of $350,000 or less. We’re making these changes knowing it will simplify and streamline the lending process and get more small loans into the hands of entrepreneurs, especially the underserved.

We have another transformative initiative in the works: We call it “SBA One.” It’s a new, interactive, user-friendly SBA lending platform. Say goodbye to fax machines and mountains of paperwork. We will automate the uploading of documents and the generation of forms, and we will allow electronic signatures.
On each 7A loan, our core product, SBA One will save banks hours of processing time and thousands of dollars. The combination of SBA credit scoring and SBA One will incent more banks to partner with us, generating more loans and igniting economic activity. By making the process quicker, cheaper and more intuitive, these reforms will help existing lenders do more small-dollar lending.

These capital access improvements lead into my second priority area: tailoring our programs, so the SBA’s efforts are responsive to the diversity of this great nation. On an encouraging note, our lending to African Americans is up 29 percent over the last year. That’s important, because the Urban Institute found that women and minorities are three to five times more likely to be approved for an SBA-backed loan than a traditional loan.

Four out of five loan applications we receive from Hispanic-American and African-American business owners are for $150,000 or less. These smaller loans, then, are a vital part of our promise of equal opportunity in America. If a bank can’t quite say “yes” to a borrower, we’re asking them to partner with a microlender or a Community Advantage lender that can.

Microlenders and CDFIs specialize in providing technical assistance to underserved borrowers. They can spend time with small business owners to make their credit applications stronger. By facilitating partnerships within the lending space, the SBA can build an expanded capital pipeline. A successful microloan can be refinanced into a community advantage loan, which can be refinanced into a low-interest bank loan, helping borrowers build credit. This is one way to provide a pathway to the middle class.

We also have a special obligation to serve those who served us so well: our veterans. They fought for our freedoms, and now many are ready to fight for their dream of starting a business. Our armed forces have a track record of producing outstanding leaders. Veterans own two and a half million businesses that generate more than $1 trillion in sales a year.

This year, the SBA will counsel and train 15,000 transitioning service members through our Boots to Business Program. We’re helping them apply their military discipline and training to their dream of starting a business. America spends an average of $31,000 per service member to get them battle-ready while this program costs an average of $411 per veteran to get them business-ready.

This program has been so popular with our troops and so cost-effective that today I’m announcing its expansion. We’re calling it Boots to Business: Reboot. Starting this summer, in 12 cities across America, we will be opening this program to the 23 million veterans who’ve already made the transition to civilian life. Our first class will kick off at the White House on July 11th.

While our veterans represent an important group for the SBA, the fact is, we offer counseling for all entrepreneurs at every stage of the small business life cycle. We help small businesses start up and scale up, and we provide access to new markets so they can really take off.

Last month at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, I announced a competition to fund 50 local entities that specialize in helping to launch new start-ups. We’re exporting the Silicon Valley model to Middle America to fund business incubators and growth accelerators in underserved communities. But we’re equally committed to helping small businesses that are already turning a profit but haven’t yet made it to the next level.

Ninety-two percent of new jobs come from the expansion of existing businesses. So today, I’m announcing Scale-Up America. We are bringing our successful entrepreneurship education program to up to 14 underserved communities across the country that will benefit from intensive SBA support. We’ll help firms gain market intelligence.

We’ll provide business consulting, and we’ll offer matchmaking with corporate and government buyers. The list of Scale Up communities that we’ll select will be announced later this year. Also, as part of our continuum of capital, the SBA is working to disperse investment capital more equitably.

Last year, about one-quarter of the companies capitalized by our Small Business Investment Companies were owned by minorities, women, or veterans – or those who conduct their business in rural or distressed urban areas. We’re focused on increasing these numbers through sustained outreach and through our Impact Investing Initiative.

But promoting inclusion is not just about gender, race, and socio-economics. One of the biggest demographic shifts affecting small businesses has to do with the fact that we’re living longer. The global population of those 65 and over is expected to triple by mid-century. More and more of our retiring Baby Boomers are starting a second act and finding fulfillment in entrepreneurship. Americans age 55 to 64 are creating nearly a quarter of our new businesses.
With their life’s experiences in their tool box, they are actually building businesses in larger numbers than their youthful counterparts. While there is evidence that our Encore counseling program for the 50+ group continues to be well received, considering the magnitude of its potential impact, a thoughtful examination is warranted about the program’s expansion potential, so that we might enrich their golden years.

Finally, the SBA will be a market maker by opening up new areas of business opportunity for small companies. We will be adaptive to signals in the domestic and global markets, and we will create the conditions for entrepreneurs to secure government contacts, enter corporate supply chains, and export their products globally.

The United States government is the largest procurer of goods and services in the world. The SBA works to level the playing field so the federal government meets its 23 percent small business contracting goal. Federal contracts are the oxygen that helps smaller firms hire and grow, supporting 450,000 jobs a year. And increasingly, these businesses are owned by women.

Women-owned businesses have grown by a remarkable 20 percent in just five years. More than a quarter of our small businesses are now owned or led by women. Currently, women entrepreneurs are considered under-represented in only 83 of the 260 industry categories, limiting their ability to receive federal set-asides. We believe the explosive growth of women-owned businesses will show that many additional industries should be added. So I’ve instructed my staff to conduct a formal study required for the SBA to re-visit the contracting landscape to ensure women have optimal access to the federal supply chain. Another important tool for federal agencies is sole-source authority. I’m encouraging Congress to give federal agencies this tool to level the playing field for women-owned businesses.

I know small firms – including women-owned businesses – can do more than supply the government. They’re ready to be suppliers to large corporations and international markets. Small businesses that secure corporate contracts increase their revenue by an average of 250 percent and increase their hiring by an average of 150 percent.

We know that large companies, utilizing just-in-time inventory replenishment, often struggle to identify a wider array of capable and nimble small suppliers. The American Supplier Initiative links small businesses with private sector, supply-chain opportunities. I’ll work to bring more CEOs into the SBA family and to secure commitments from them to make purchases through small business suppliers, thereby increasing demand for the corporations’ products and establishing symbiotic relationships.

And we will also expand this private-sector initiative to international commerce to help our firms compete globally. The SBA has learned from 30 roundtables and hearings, where we’ve collected small business feedback for use in trade negotiations with Europe and Asia.

Last year, the SBA shattered our record for export finance, supporting $2.8 billion in export sales. I believe we can do even more to help our firms reach the 95 percent of global consumers who live outside of our borders. We’ll continue to support the President’s robust trade agenda, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans Pacific Partnership. And we’ll ensure small businesses have the financing they need to engage internationally.

As you might expect, the banker in me inquires as to the stimulative effect our programs are having and their ROI – return on investment. The ROI on our loan programs is exceptional. Keep in mind: We allow lenders to make loans they otherwise would not. We fill market gaps. Our loans go to entrepreneurs who don’t quite yet meet conventional underwriting standards. SBA has a $100 billion portfolio that’s highly stimulative. Every dollar we inject into the economy is capital that would otherwise stay on the sidelines.

Moreover, every program I’ve outlined today is fully paid for with our existing appropriations from Congress. I know these are difficult budget times. We will measure our success by tracking the revenue gains and job gains that result from these initiatives. Programs that do not deliver on these metrics will be reformed or eliminated. Our largest lending program, 7a, has been operating at zero subsidy for two years. These loans are not costing the American taxpayers a single dime. We know small businesses must do more with less. The SBA should lead by example. An adaptive SBA must be modern, inclusive, and market-sensitive, all the while delivering a strong return on investment to the taxpayer.

The initiatives I announced today are not the end of our conversation but are a good start. We must adapt to smart technologies. We must be responsive to changing cultures, new lifestyles and evolving demographics and psychographics. Finally, we must continue to anticipate and seize what portends for tomorrow’s markets. To repeat, the SBA will be modern, inclusive, and be a market maker for small businesses.

My arrival in this country has brought me untold opportunities. My gratitude is matched only by my motivation to open more opportunities to every American who shares the entrepreneurial spirit. I never imagined that I would be here today. But now that I am the head of the Small Business Administration, I am dedicating myself to making small businesses big businesses. The hallmark of my work will be to foster entrepreneurial equality, preserving our nation’s preeminent role as the world’s leading economy. Let’s make small business a big deal. The SBA’s work has never been more vital. For me, SBA stands for Smart, Bold and Accessible, in every corner of the nation. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Small Business Lending Landscape

Changes to the Small Business Lending Landscape & Referral Fees

Small businesses are the backbone of California’s economy, creating 82% of new net jobs in our state. In order to grow, these businesses need access to capital to purchase supplies and equipment, market their products and hire workers. Despite these businesses’ importance to California’s economic recovery, bank lending to small businesses remains at historic lows. Bank lending to California small businesses is still at only one-third the number of loans made in 2007. Loans to women-owned and minority-owned businesses have fallen by even greater levels.

One proven strategy for serving hard to reach communities is the use of modest referral fees. Referral fees serve as an important incentive for a local business owner to share information on available, high-quality financing with other business owners in their family, neighborhood, industry and/or ethnic community. By modifying the California Finance Lenders Law to allow business lenders to pay referral fees to their clients and partners (for successful business loan applications of $5,000 and above), it is possible to harness existing social capital to bring desperately needed financial capital to low income and minority communities.

Download the slide deck

Listen to the webinar (65 minutes):

About the Presenter

Gwendy Donaker Brown photoGwendy Donaker Brown is Director of Policy and New Initiatives at Opportunity Fund, California’s largest microfinance organization. In her role, Gwendy advocates for federal, state and local policies that help small business owners, college students and working families advance their economic well-being. Gwendy was first drawn to development work when she served as a Fulbright Scholar with the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) in Caracas, Venezuela. She holds a BA in Economics & Public Policy from Pomona College and an MPA in Nonprofit Management from New York University. Gwendy is originally from Berkeley, CA.

2014 Small Business Week Activities

It’s that time of year again! SBA is gearing up for National Small Business Week, May 12-16. And like last year, they’re taking the show on the road to celebrate small businesses across the United States. They’re excited for this year’s activities, which will include forums and panels about trends in small business, innovation, financing, business growth – and more. There will also be matchmaking events and networking opportunities.

The week will kick off in San Francisco on May 12, followed by events in Kansas City, Boston and Washington, DC. They wrap up in the nation’s capital by honoring small businesses from across the country, culminating in the announcement of 2014’s National Small Business Person of the Year.

In addition to the in-person events, the SBA will sponsor several webinars of interest to small businesses.

Check out the full National Small Business Week conference schedule.

Small Business Week 2014 Kickoff @Twitter HQ

The SBA brings together leaders from the small business, government, consumer and high-tech communities to raise awareness for #smallbiz across the nation. They’ll also share exclusive content to help you learn how social media can be integrated into marketing strategies to help drive your business growth.

This event takes place at Twitter HQ in San Francisco and is SOLD OUT. It will be live streamed.

Click here to add your name to the waitlist.

Time:
Monday, May 12, 2014 from 7:30 AM to 12:00 PM (PDT)

Matched Savings for Entrepreneurs

AFI and Small Businesses: Helping Entrepreneurs Build Assets

Entrepreneurs benefit from maximizing the equity they can invest in their businesses, but low-income individuals may not have that much to start with. That’s where matched savings accounts like Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) can be helpful. Matched savings accounts – similar to 401(k)s – allow entrepreneurs tobuild capital for their small business. Monthly deposits from participants are multiplied by the matching funds offered, up to $4,000. In addition to accumulating capital, participants establish a history of regular savings that demonstrates creditworthiness that can strengthen their potential for other financing options, such as microloan programs.

CAMEO hosted the AFI Resource Center as they discussed how matched savings programs work and benefit low-income entrepreneurs and microenterprise development organizations. This webinar also showcases the work of a current AFI grantee, the Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Sonoma County, who will share insights on managing an IDA program and supporting low-income entrepreneurs.

Sheilah Rogers, CAMEO Founder

CAMEO is celebrating our 20th Anniversary at our Annual Meeting on June 17th in Sacramento! This year, we’re taking the opportunity to honor our founders, including Sheilah Rogers. Visit the 20th Anniversary page for this years agenda and more information on other speakers and award recipients.

sheilah rogers photo (large)

Sheilah Rogers is a pioneer in international and domestic microenterprise development. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she worked with rural women in Ecuador to build a marketing cooperative that recognized their artistic talents and established new domestic and international markets for their artisan products.

Sheilah is the founding CEO of West Company in Mendocino County, one of the first domestic microenterprise development organizations that focused on low- income women’s economic challenges and their paths to social and economic well-being.

As the leader of West Company, she participated in national initiatives to achieve best practices to bring disenfranchised women into the economy and to advocate for public policies that support their entrepreneurship. She counts 30 years of leadership and advocacy for microenterprise as the sustainable economic development strategy for rural economies.

She is a founder and former board member of CAMEO, the California Association for MicroEnterprise Opportunity and AEO, the Association for Enterprise Opportunity. Sheilah holds a Masters Degree in International Development from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.

In retirement, Sheilah has focused on one of the Six Targets of Opportunity for economic growth on the North Coast – Specialty Agriculture, Food and Beverage including producers, value added manufacturers, distributors, local vendors. She currently serves on the Mendocino County Food Policy Council, the North Coast Regional Food Systems Network and the Mendocino College Culinary Arts Advisory Committee. Each of these efforts is working to build a sustainable local food system that reduces hunger, increases healthy eating and expands economic vitality.

Research: In Search of Solid Ground

Full_Report_CoverNew Research Broadens Understandings of Microbusiness Financial Vulnerability

Though micro-businesses contribute significantly to nationwide economic activity and their owners’ household balance sheets, many still struggle to make ends meet or build long-term wealth. Today, little is known about how the typical micro-business manages its finances, the major financial challenges they face or which components of financial capability lead them to business success. To begin to bridge this gap in understanding, CFED released a groundbreaking new study titled In Search of Solid Ground: Understanding the Financial Vulnerabilities of Microbusiness Owners.

With support from MasterCard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, CFED launched the study in 2013, surveying 716 micro-business owners from 43 states and conducting phone interviews with 214 owners from two target markets: Miami and Minneapolis. The findings reveal that micro-business owners’ business and personal finances are often inextricably tied, and that they are dealing with significant financial vulnerabilities that reach far beyond access to credit. Among the main findings:

  • Cash flow problems—lacking sufficient liquidity to cover business expenses at the time they arise—are key drivers of financial insecurity for both micro-business owners and their households.
  • Remarkably low short- and long-term savings levels compound these challenges even further, preventing micro-business owners from mitigating income-expense mismatches, weathering emergencies or meeting long-term goals that contribute to greater financial stability.
  • Difficulty accessing appropriate financial products and services, especially credit, also compounds micro-business owners’ financial security: those that are vulnerable for other reasons—young startups, less formal businesses, those generating lower household incomes for their owners, those with fewer employees and minority-owned businesses—are more likely to experience difficulty accessing financial products that suit their needs.

The study’s findings help tell a more nuanced story about what constitutes financial capability and offer new insights into the types of solutions that might resolve micro-businesses’ greatest financial challenges. Going forward, CFED will engage partners in a national dialogue focused on moving from research to action. We hope you will accept CFED’s invitation to stay engaged!

Download the research study and brief from CFED’s Resource Directory today!

Questions? Contact Lauren Williams or Manny Hidalgo.

Healthcare Reform and Small Biz

What Healthcare Reform Means for your Micro-Business

Health care continues to be an important issue for small business owners. The Small Business Administration and Small Business Majority are committed to helping businesses navigate the changes and opportunities in health care through the Affordable Care Act 101 webinar series.

Small business owners can learn the basics of the Affordable Care Act and how they can enroll in small business health insurance marketplaces. Other topics discussed include insurance reforms, the small business health care tax credit, and employer shared responsibility provisions. SBA representatives help small business owners understand the facts of the Affordable Care Act so they can make informed decisions about providing health insurance for their employees.

What the Healthcare Law Means for your California Small Business

English 

Spanish

Learn more about how the new health care law affects small businesses.

For more information visit Covered California.

MicroLending Academy Newsletter V1.1

MLAcademy PencilMicrolending Academy Newsletter

Inaugural Edition Collectors Item – Read it. Print it. Save it. Frame it!

 

Hi Friend,We’ve developed a new newsletter that will be chock-a-block with articles, resources, technology, success stories, interviews, big picture ideas on all Lending Academy features.  We’re starting with once a quarter and will increase the frequency as demand dictates.  Welcome to our first edition!

In this Issue…

  • MMS Update – Microlending on the Rise for Three Orgs
  • News: Proposed Rule Changes to Microloan TA Program
  • Best Practices:  Deployment of Capital from OFN
  • Peer Learning:Developing New Loan Products
  • Training Opportunities

Peer Learning: Developing a New Loan Product

microbiz peer callPeer learning calls will provide a forum in which you will work with colleagues to strengthen your microloan program and share your insights and innovations. Jeremy Hofer of Fresno CDFI will lead our inaugural peer learning call about the strategic approach to developing a new loan product.

April 7, 2014

11:00am-12:00pm

RSVP today for the MicroLending Academy Peer Call: Strategic Approach to Developing a New Loan Product to receive the call-in information.

Technology: MMS Update – Microlending on the Rise for Three Orgs

Devon Johnson, WEV In the first eight months of the MMS pilot, the program has received 160 loan applications, rejected 107 and approved 32 for an approval rate of 20%. The program has lent $656,000; we hope to reach $1 million in the first year.

Susan Brown, the program manager, spoke with Devon Johnson of Women’s Economic Ventures about her success and hopes for the program.

Contact Susan Brown to learn more about how to increase your loan volume!

News

 

Best Practices:  Deployment of Capital

OFN has a new technical assistance memo out – Deployment Strategies for CDFI Small Business Lenders

CDFIs of all shapes and sizes have developed a variety of ways to overcome barriers to deployment – barriers such as lack of quality deals, insufficient staff capacity, competition, lack of a marketing budget, and insufficient capital.

This memo outlines common strategies for over coming barriers, including development and maintenance of referral relationships, creative marketing strategies, deployment goals, specialization in lending, and capitalization planning. But the real take away is that to increase effectiveness a CDFI needs clearly stated deployment goals and integrated strategies that link capitalization, marketing, and deployment into a cohesive and measurable management approach.

Study the Deployment Strategies for CDFI Small Business Lenders Memo.

Training Opportunities: Certificate in Community Development Finance

microbusiness trainingCAMEO’s Individualized Learning Program for Trainings and Professional Development can be used to partially defray trainings, workshops and events that help develop leadership and improve operations of our member organizations.

Opportunity Finance Network offers a certificate in Community Development Finance on June 16, 2014 – June 20, 2014 in New Hampshire. The program fee is $2,200.

Learn more on how to access this member benefit as well as other training opportunities.

 

20th-anniversary-CAMEO- 4c-vertical-small

CAMEO, as the effective small business CDFI coalition for California, supports the growth and sustainability of microlending in California. We feel that it’s our role to bring forth new trends and technology and to support our members to expand their capacity, skills, capital resources and technology adoption. To that end, we introduced a new program at our 2014 MicroLenders Forum – MicroLending Academy.

 

 

OUR GOALS

  • Significantly increase microlending among our members.
  • Assist members to increase capacity and knowledge of best practices.
  • Showcase and support the adoption of technology for operations efficiency and loan production.
  • Promote access to capital for disadvantaged entrepreneurs.

UPCOMING EVENTS

What would you like to see in the newsletter? Do you have a best practice or success story to share? Email Heidi Pickman with your content ideas.

House Approps on SBA FY2015 Budget

This from our guy in DC, Martin Feeney of Madison Services Group.

On April 3, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government met to consider the President’s FY2015 proposed budget for the Small Business Administration (SBA). Acting Administrator Marianne O’Brien Markowitz testified on behalf of the SBA.

The purpose of this hearing was to review the President’s $865 million funding recommendation for the SBA, as the Subcommittee begins to draft the FY2015 SBA spending bill. The FY2015 request is a decrease of $64 million from current FY2014 funding.

In his opening remarks, Chair Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) highlighted the importance of the SBA’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) program, and noted that the WBC in his District, the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center was recently recognized by the SBA for outstanding performance.

Ranking Member Jose Serrano (D-NY) said one of his primary concerns with the proposed budget was the elimination of the PRIME program, saying that he and his colleagues will once again fight to reinstate funding for the program.

Topics covered during the hearing included:

  • Focus on high-growth businesses: Chair Crenshaw noted that there seems to be more focus on assisting businesses poised for growth rather than assisting true small businesses; he asked the SBA ensure the needs of entrepreneurs are being met.
  • Microloan: both Chair Crenshaw and Ranking Member Serrano emphasized the importance of the Microloan program and support the SBA’s recommendation for full funding for the program.
  • PRIME: As noted, Ranking Member Serrano repeatedly noted the SBA’s lack of support for the PRIME program, asking the Administration to better articulate why the continue to propose eliminating it. SBA Acting Administrator O’Brien Markowitz noted her familiarity with the program and the benefits it provides from her time as a regional SBA director, saying “I know the good the program does.”
  • Disaster preparedness: all Members gave the SBA high marks for its disaster efforts and recognized the SBA’s efforts to enhance disaster responses, including new lending approval processes for disaster loans.
  • Agency-wide efficiency: the SBA has successfully reduced administrative costs by better managing fleet services, consolidated office space.

How ACA Enrollment Affects You

Thanks to John Stanford of Madison Services Group for this article.

Individual Health Insurance Enrollment Has Ended – How It Affects You

March 31st marked the end of “open enrollment” in the new Health Insurance Exchanges for 2014. For most Americans, this signaled the final day to create an account, compare plans, and choose health insurance for 2014. Amid the many updates, delays, and conflicting media coverage, business owners and their employees may not know how they are affected. Depending on your current insurance situation, here are actions you may need to take:

For Individuals Not Covered Through Work:

  • If you had technical problems signing up, either through the federal exchange at healthcare.gov or certain state exchanges (at this point Maryland, Minnesota, and Nevada), the enrollment period has been extended until mid-April. To qualify for this extension, you must have created an account on the exchange (including your email address) by midnight yesterday.
  • If your insurance was cancelled and will end at some point in 2014, you will be able to sign up during a “special enrollment period” — right before your plan ends. Alternatively, your insurance carrier may choose to extend your plan as-is. Check with your current carrier to find out.
  • If you are self-employed, you are considered an individual, not a small business. Your enrollment period ended yesterday, just like everyone else.

For Small Business Owners

  • If you are a business owner and planned to offer insurance through your business to your employees, you can enroll throughout the year in the SHOP (Small Business) Marketplace. Generally, you can enroll up to the 15th of any month for coverage beginning the 1st of the next month. The Small Business Marketplace is limited to business with up to 50 employees. Online applications will not be available until the fall, though you can apply for coverage through a paper application or broker, both accessible through healthcare.gov.
  • If you already provide health insurance to your employees (under 25 employees), make sure you consider the Small Business Health Tax Credit which can cover up to 50% of your costs. The credit is available for 2013 (the taxes being filed in April this year). Use the IRS Taxpayer Advocate calculator to determine if you qualify and for how much.

As a reminder, there are no penalties for any employer until 2015, no matter how many employees you have.