Small business recovery does not end with pandemic aid

SBA partners with entrepreneurs to start, grow and expand businesses

It is a challenge for any small business owner to run a business. Trying to secure financing is even more difficult without the right support. Planning to grow your business and expand is an even more difficult task if you do not have a professional to discuss your plans with and help you make the appropriate business decisions. As an employer, you are cognizant of the fact that your decisions also impact your workers, and sometimes that is scary.

I’ve seen this firsthand with hundreds of entrepreneurs. Too many looked to succeed by any means necessary, even when it was deleterious to themselves and their business.

For example, one entrepreneur secured a high-interest loan, tapped into their retirement savings and used the cash to ramp up and stay operational. The monthly payments on the loan were greater than the income being generated — and the owner paid a great price financially. This does not have to be the case for your business.

When President Joe Biden’s White House appointed me to lead the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Atlantic Region, I saw firsthand how SBA programs and resources were making a difference; pandemic-related programs, for example, injected $42 billion into New Jersey’s small business ecosystem.

Our traditional programs also make a huge impact by providing capital to small businesses looking to start, grow and expand. Last year in New Jersey and Metro New York, the SBA guaranteed more than $3.1 billion in traditional loans to 4,400 small businesses that supported over 40,000 jobs. Together, SBA traditional and pandemic relief programs are fueling our local and national economic recovery.

Moreover, SBA lending networks also provide microloans of up to $50,000 for startups, all the way to working capital loans of up to $5 million. At every stage of a small business’s lifecycle, the SBA is there to help you grow.

The SBA also offers technical assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs through its local resource partners. In 2021, SBA-funded counseling provided free training and technical assistance to almost 27,000 small businesses via Small Business Development Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers located at local colleges and universities.

Moreover, thanks to equitable investments by Biden and SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA-funded Women Business Centers are now located in every state of the nation, too.

The SBA also awarded $100 million in funding to eligible nonprofits through the Community Navigators Pilot Program, designed to connect even more people in underserved areas to our programs and services, including the Lakewood Community Service Corp., a hub with many spokes to serve local neighborhoods.

These new initiatives help the SBA meet entrepreneurs and small businesses where there are, actively connecting them with funding, counseling, training, contracting and assistance. Our focus is Building a Better America through entrepreneurship — and while over $1.3 trillion in COVID economic aid programs have ended, you can still leverage SBA’s traditional lending programs to support your business needs.

Although many may not have heard of the SBA until the pandemic, our agency looks forward to servicing the millions of new businesses the Biden administration supported, especially the brand new ones that have recently opened. In fact, in New Jersey during Biden’s first year in office, residents applied to start more new businesses than in any other year in history, and we look forward to helping them grow.

The SBA is your business partner. We have a vested interest in helping you succeed. Your success is this nation’s success. Your businesses are the major employers in state and nation. You are providing needed products and services to other Americans. Your workers’ paychecks are then generating even more economic power in your communities that then supports your state’s economy. We are ready to help you succeed with below market rate capital, advice and support. Let’s do this; let’s Build a Better America by reaching out to us via for an SBA Resource Partner near you.

Marlene Cintron is U.S. Small Business Administration Atlantic regional administrator.