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SBA reaches out
Created on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 09:53 Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 09:53 Published on Thursday, 28 February 2013 06:01 Written by Diane I. Daniels Hits: 853
LEADING THE CHARGE—Marie Johns, deputy administrator of the US Small Business Administration visits Pittsburgh spreading the word about the SBA. (Photo by Diane I. Daniels)
Access to capital, counseling and contracting support for small businesses are three tools the U.S. Small Businesses Administration offers its clients. Designed to provide assistance in helping small businesses start and grow, the SBA functions in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam. The local office, covering a 27 county region is located at 411 Seventh Avenue in Suite 1450.
Recently in Pittsburgh, SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns met with area federally funded agencies geared toward helping small businesses as well as Faith-based and community organization leaders and small business owners. Discussion focused on the needs of businesses in the region, what the SBA can be doing to support job creation and to assure that participants are aware of the programs and resources provided by the Administration to help them grow, hire and succeed. Conscious of what it takes to operate a small business, Johns says her focus is to ensure that entrepreneurs in underserved communities have the resources, relationships, and tools they need to start businesses and to create good-paying jobs.
“My grandfather owned a lawn care business in Indiana. I know what it is like and what it takes to operate a small business,” she said.
Throughout its 60-year history nationally and locally, the SBA is credited for assisting millions. Understanding that access to capital is a major obstacle for any size business, Johns pointed out that the SBA offers a range of loan programs for very specific purposes and is currently developing two more.
Indicating that the SBA does not directly loan money, she stressed that they work with federal, state and local entities.
Known for its technical assistance, the SBA offers free counseling, advice and information on starting, better operating or expanding a business. Assistance comes through one-on-one meetings, through training, counseling and business-development programs.
Partnerships are something Johns and local District Director Carl Knoblock stress are very important.
“Resource partners are key to bringing services to the table as well as serving as outreach sources,” said Johns. “We are always looking for new partners and a ways to spread the word about our services. Faith-based and community organizations serve as good sources. We want to form strategic alliances with groups not just locally but nationally as well.”
Knoblock listed the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania, the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, Pennsylvania State, the Penn State Data Center, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance/Business Resource Center, and the Pennsylvania Chapter of Business and Industry as a few local resources.
While outlining resources, Johns listed Pittsburgh as having a strong Senior Core of Retired Executive Center, two Women’s Business Centers at Chatham University, E-Magnify at Seton Hill, and the area Small Business Development Centers.
When questioned about programs for young people interested in entrepreneurship, Johns indicated that a pilot program is being initiated in some regions in conjunction with the Department of Labor and being tried out at Job Corp sites.
Pittsburgh is just one of the many stops Johns and senior SBA officials are making as they travel the country spreading the word about the President’s messages from the State of the Union, as well as the resources offered by the SBA to help small business owners and entrepreneurs—particularly those in underserved communities—succeed as part of the Administration’s efforts to help strengthen the middle class.
Johns, nominated by President Barak Obama has been deputy administrator since 2010. Her responsibilities include managing the agency and developing programs and policies. During her tenure, it is reported that she has led the SBA for the past two years in record breaking lending, supporting more than $30 billion in loans annually. She works with the President’s senior advisors at the White House ensuring that more federal contracts are awarded to small businesses. She also serves as the chair of the President’s Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development.
Committed to the SBA mission of helping small businesses, Knoblock said he does so by using SBA programs: government contracting, guarantor of loans, advocacy, disaster assistance, and technical assistance. The Arizona native is known for his dedication and deep passion of helping small businesses succeed and create economic development in the region.
A former entrepreneur and retired Navy vet, he uses his expertise and knowledge to direct local entrepreneurs at all levels.
Both Johns and Knoblock think this is a good time to start a business as the economic recovery takes root.
“The Pittsburgh region has good things going on and now is the time to connect with the SBA and use the skill sets that you have,” said Johns.
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