The US Small Business Administration (SBA) has the little guy's back. As an independent agency of the federal government, it provides services to independently owned, for-profit small businesses, including those owned by women, minorities, veterans, and disadvantaged people, in the US, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Small businesses are typically defined as having fewer than 500 employees. The agency provides loans and loan guarantees, contract opportunities, disaster assistance, business development counseling, and an online library of small business information and resources. The SBA was established in 1953 largely in response to the pressures of the Great Depression and WWII.
With 10 regional offices and about 70 district offices, the SBA is the smallest of the federal credit agencies behind the US Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Veterans Affairs. However, it has a big impact on stimulating the economy. Small businesses account for a majority of net new jobs in the US. To continue stimulating job creation, the agency provides funding to small businesses through regular SBA programs, as well as American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) programs.
In terms of loans, it has implemented programs that have supported more than $27 billion in lending to more than 60,000 small businesses across the country under ARRA. These programs focus on eliminating and reducing fees for borrowers on certain loans, expanding access to investment capital, and expanding loan eligibility to a greater number of small businesses, among other efforts. The longer-term success of these programs may lie in the Obama administration's ability to approve extensions on loan guarantees and reduced fees.
In terms of contracts, the SBA helps small businesses gain access to and compete for government contracting opportunities in such areas as aerospace/defense and construction. In fiscal year 2009 small businesses won a record $96.8 billion in federal prime contracts, which represents an increase of more than $3 billion from 2008 and about 22% of all federal spending. The agency's goal is to reach 23% of federal contracts awarded to the small business sector.
In addition to its regional and district offices, the SBA maintains a nationwide network of resource partners that include SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, and Women's Business Centers. These partners provide counseling in developing business and marketing plans, implementing new technologies, accessing capital, and other undertakings across the lifecycle of a small business. – less