SBA Ombudsman Pledges Support to SMBs

Michael Barrera says that despite cuts, the U.S. Small Business Administration is doing more and wants to help small and midsize businesses.

Despite drastic budget cuts, Michael Barrera, national ombudsman for the United States Small Business Administration, said the SBA continues to deliver on its promise to support and fund small business growth.

"IT is at the core of our mission at the SBA, and as government resources shrink, IT helps make us more efficient in delivering to our constituents," said Barrera.

"Our budget has dropped, but were doing more."

In fact, since 2001 the SBA budget has been reduced roughly 50 percent to the almost $600 million scheduled for 2006.

His comments came during a keynote presentation at Wednesdays online Ziff Davis Internet SMB (small and midsize business) Solutions Virtual Tradeshow 2005.

In addition to adopting technology to speed internal processes, Barrera said the SBA has refocused its funds on the most important and successful programs, and he highlighted those existing programs for tradeshow participants.

"Its so important that people know what the SBA has, and know that we want to help," he said.

According to Barrera, still among the most successful and expanding assistance programs is the SBAs Capital Access program, which provide backing for loans that financial institutions make to SMBs, essentially guaranteeing those loans will be paid in full.

In 2005, SBA made more than $21 billion available to SMBs, and over the past year has increased the number of individual loans from 40,000 to more than 100,000.

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SBA Express is one such loan program that makes available loans of up to $350,000 with minimal requirements and can be used for a wide range of business improvement projects, from IT infrastructure to building expansion and development.

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