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Dear SBA: You’re out of touch! 


     I just read  a meaningless, unintelligible, patronizing, jargon-filled statement by SBAs Delaware District Director which reinforces in spades a conviction I’ve voiced in prior posts that the Small Business Association is utterly useless to small businesses and waaaaay out of touch with reality.

     She headlines her article  “100 Days After the Recovery Act” and starts out by telling readers how great all the new SBA programs are to “help small businesses weather this economic storm, and ultimately continue to grow and create jobs.” Where was SBA when these kinds of comments were being posed as requests over a year ago on this blog and many others?

     She ends with:  “America’s small businesses are the key to our nation’s economic recovery.”  (Duh) “The SBA is using every tool in our toolbox –and creating new ones when necessary– to help small businesses lead us out of these tough economic times.” (Double Duh)So tell us about the tools in your toolbox! In plain English would also be a nice thing to try to do, by the way.

     Get this, business owners:  You think the SBA is relevant so you read this gobbledygook (or gobbledegook if you prefer… a word that’s really worth looking up!) and imagine you might get an idea or two about how to help your business recover, right?

     Wrong.  Unless of course you happen to be well versed in “loan programs–7(a) and 504” because then you undoubtedly understand about “eliminated fees for borrowers” on 7(a) “and for both borrowers and lenders on 504” and that they’ve “temporarily raised the guarantee.”

     Oh, yes, and we should be thrilled  to know that “there’s been a 30 percent increase in average weekly loan dollar volume” and –on top of that– the new SBA launched ARC loan “program provides loans up to $35,000 to viable but struggling small businesses,” and that “SBA has now put in place programs implementing 88 percent of the $730 million provided.”  

You must be kidding, SBA!

  • What is “7(a)”? Who should be expected to know this?

  • What is “504”? Who should be expected to know this?

  • What “eliminated fees”? Why? When? For how long? So what?

  • Why eliminated for just borrowers on one loan and for borrowers and lenders both on another, and who cares?

  • What exactly does “temporarily” mean?

  • What “guarantee”? Whose? For what? For how long? What are the terms?

  • 30% increase? This has something to do with my small business?

  • So what? What does this have to do with me and my small business?

  • What exactly is “viable”? Is it not defined because not many will qualify?

  • What exactly is “struggling”? And again, how is this determined?

  • What difference does it make to ANYone that 88% of $730 million has been “implemented”? I’m trying to put food on the table. Who are you trying to impress?

  • What does “implemented” mean, exactly? Why can SBA language never be straightforward? Likely because no small businesspeople are speaking.

     Find me ONE “struggling” small business owner who understands all this crap. Just one. The problem here is that the SBA is simply another BIG-business-run federal government agency that hasn’t a single clue about owning and operating a small business … and that is more concerned with covering its butt and looking good to political administrators than with helping small businesses create jobs. It is tokenism run amuck.    

I served two consecutive 2-year federal appointment terms on what’s been called the country’s most important SBA regional advisory council (NY/NJ/CT and the USVI. I  resigned  because 31 of the 33 membership seats were filled with major corporate executives. I and one other member were the only ones who owned and operated small businesses. The job of representing and cultivating small business interests was not getting done, and it’s still not.


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