Thursday, May 31, 2007

What's Up with the SBA?

Two articles in the NY Times about the SBA caught my eye this week. The first, Small Business Not as Usual, discussed some of the well known shortcomings about the SBA. The second, A Voice for Small Business, shares excerpts from an interview of SBA chief, Steven C. Preston.

Here's what I found interesting about these articles:

  • SBA loan volumes were flat in 2006 compared to 2005 at almost $20.3 billion while the average loan amount continues to drop steadily from $257 thousand in 2002 to $189 thousand in 2006. More businesses are getting loans is good news. Are they getting enough dollars to make a difference?
  • The SBA has proposed raising fees in its microloan program which is the exact opposite of what was reported in the LA Times this past February. Which one is it - are fees going down or up? I wish I could get this type of information from Fantasy Congress!

  • In the NY Times interview of Preston, he stated that he doesn't think that the SBA fees charged to borrowers are "an inhibitor to our getting capital in their hands". Who has Preston been talking to? My clients and prospects always focus on the up-front fees in deciding amongst business loan options.

Though clearly open for debate amongst business owners and politicians, I think the SBA can provide valuable assistance to small business. Sure wish they would make it easier.

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