By Ty Kiisel
January 14, 2014
You gotta walk the walk if you’re gonna talk the talk.
Washington does a lot of talking about the importance of small business. They like to point to how small business makes up 70 percent of the workforce and accounts for two out of every three new jobs. And they’re right. Small business is an important part of local economies.
The proposal put forth by Senator Richard Burr, a republican out of North Carolina, would consolidate the Small Business Administration, the Labor Department, and the Commerce Departments together in what would be called the Department of Commerce and Workforce. “The proposal is similar to one pitched two years ago by the White House, and Burr says it would save ‘staggering amounts of money every year’ by eliminating duplicative programs,” writes J.D. Harrison for the Washington Post.
I agree with Lloyd Chapman, head of the American Small Business League, cited by Harrison, when he warns that this is just another attempt to shutter one of the only government agencies in place to help the nation’s nearly 30 million small business owners.
Last week, Senator Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, suggested that extending unemployment benefits to the 1.3 million workers who fell off the unemployment roles this month, along with the 3.6 million more they expect to do the same later this year would cost somewhere around $25 billion a year. The comparatively small price tag for the SBA, seems well worth the resources for an organization established in 1953 to help small businesses and their associated communities grow. Particularly when the President and the Congress both point to small business as the job creation engine in the U.S.
The SBA doesn’t just guarantee $30 million in small business loans (and I think they should do more) every year. They offer education and resources to help small business owners that might not otherwise be able to successfully start and grow a healthy small business. Granted, there are challenges associated with the SBA, but I’m not convinced consolidating the organization into Commerce and Labor is the solution. I like acting Administrator Hulit, but a permanent administrator would be a good start.
There are many who disagree with me suggesting that Washington’s commitment to small business isn’t dependent on whether or not they have an agency with their name on it. True. Nevertheless, I worry that small business is about to get lost in the shuffle. I’m concerned this will send the wrong message to the nearly 30 million small business owners who need to have confidence in the future to stick their necks out and expand their businesses. The current administration along with the boys on the hill haven’t done a very good job over the last few years instilling that confidence in the job creation machine that is small business—hence the need for Reid’s $24 billion.
I need more convincing. How about you?