By Patricia Brown-Dixon / Guest Editorial
During the holiday season, Americans across the country have a unique opportunity to strengthen their local economies, support their communities and get great services and products by shopping small — shopping at small businesses, that is. The holidays give us all the chance to reconnect with our neighbors and, whether you’re grabbing a cup of coffee from the shop around the corner or patronizing a local book store, every purchase at a small business makes a difference in your community.
America’s 28 million small businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating two out of every three net new private sector jobs, and we all have a role in helping small businesses succeed. At the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), we are committed to ensuring small businesses have access to the capital, counseling, contracting opportunities and disaster assistance they need to start and grow a business.
Since President Barack Obama took office, SBA has supported more than $126 billion in lending to more than 260,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country. In fiscal year 2013 alone, SBA supported more than $29 billion in loans to America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. In the Region 7 SBA states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, SBA supported 2,476 loans in our top two lending programs for almost $930 million.
SBA also has an extensive counseling and training network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), women’s business centers, veteran’s business centers and SCORE volunteers which cumulatively reach more than one million people each year. In fiscal year 2013, these entities funded by SBA, counseled 15,549 people and trained 35,854 people across Region 7.
In addition to helping small businesses access the tools and resources that can help them take their business to the next level, SBA also encourages the federal government to shop small by overseeing its supply chain for small businesses. Federal contracting is a win-win. The federal government gets to work with innovative small businesses — often with direct access to the CEO — and small businesses get an important source of revenue.
In fiscal year 2012, 22.25 percent of federal contracting dollars went to small businesses, up from to 21.65 percent in fiscal year 2011. And for the first time, more agencies than ever before reached or surpassed all of their prime contracting goals. In Region 7, SBA reached the fiscal year 2012 contracting goal of 25 percent of federal contracting dollars going to small businesses, with small businesses netting 37 percent.
When small businesses succeed, we all win. The SBA is committed to helping small business owners do what they do best: provide exceptional products and services and create jobs. And American consumers have an important part to play.
On Nov. 30, millions of Americans shopped small in celebration of Small Business Saturday. By shopping small and supporting local business during the rest of this holiday season, we can all help give millions of families the opportunity to achieve the American dream.
For more information about the small business resources in your community, contact the SBA’s Cedar Rapids branch office at (319) 362-6405 or go to www.sba.gov/ia
Patricia Brown-Dixon is Region VII administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.