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Recent Changes in SBA Programs

Although the SBA has existed for almost 60 years, it has seen frequent changes in funding and program policies. Since these changes often negatively affect the availability of SBA loan guarantees, the agency struggles to remain a useful source of assistance in obtaining financing for small businesses. Access to seed capital for small businesses is the raison d'etre of the agency but in recent years the number of banks offering SBA guaranteed loans has diminished considerably. The recent global economic meltdown has limited access to capital on almost all fronts. Additionally, much can be attributed to the morass of paperwork and regulation that require banks to increase expenses to hire and train personnel specializing in SBA guaranty business. Lower profits and increased expense and risk are not incentives for banks to participate in SBA programs.

Access to Information. In 2010 the SBA launched its social media sites.You can now follow the SBA on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Foursquare. They hope to make access to their information much easier which should foster more interest in and use of their resources. They also offer some excellent educational opportunities and ideas on their main site.

Entrepreneurs. In the area of entrepreneurial development, the Small Business Development (SBDC), SCORE and Women's Business Centers (WBDC) were reauthorized but still under-funded. But Congress has exhibited dissatisfaction with the SBA's lack of ability to control government contracting problems surrounding the mandatory award of certain opportunities to small business entities. The SBA has insufficient personnel to manage the level of oversight expected of them. Hopefully that may be remedied soon.

Incentives. In addition to the unusual 100 percent guarantee for the new leverage assistance and expanded microloan programs, the SBA guarantees as much as 85 to 90 percent on loans of up to $150,000 and 75 percent on loans of more than $150,000. In most cases, the maximum guaranty is $1 million. There are higher loan limits for International Trade, defense-dependent small firms affected by defense reductions, and Certified Development Company loans.

Special Populations. Several web sites have recently been created by the SBA to address special concerns of small businesses. These include one aimed veterans and military families and another targeting women-owned businesses. The main site also has a feature that provides for translation into over sixty languages.

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