SBA Under Scrutiny; Women’s Entrepreneurship at Tipping Point

Happy 2016!

  • SBA Under Scrutiny
  • Women Entrepreneurs 10 Million Strong
  • Join/Renew Your CAMEO Membership
  • Save the Date: MicroLenders Forum, January 26,2016 at the Federal Reserve Bank, San Francisco
  • The Goodies – This week’s highlight is that the nomination deadline for the US SBA Awards for outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners is January 11, 2016.

SBA Under Scrutiny

The House Committee on Small Business held two hearings this week:

The GAO reported in September 2015 that the SBA “has not resolved many of its long-standing management challenges due to a lack of sustained priority attention over time.” Examples include organizational transformation in areas such as human capital and information technology (IT) that have been cited as a problem since 2000. The GAO made 69 recommendations with which the SBA has generally agreed, but according to the GAO, “the agency had made limited progress in addressing most of these recommendations but had recently begun taking some steps.” Read the testimony of William Shear from the GAO. Or watch the 1.5 hours on the Committee’s YouTube channel.

Chairman Chabot said in his opening statement on Wednesday, “The GAO’s conclusions are clear: the SBA needs a complete overhaul of its operations.” The problems have been identified and Chabot recognized that meaningful solutions won’t happen overnight. He’s counting on “the dedicated effort of Agency officials, and the watchful eye of …this Committee, to right these wrongs.” He plans to hold several hearings over the next few months to check up on how the SBA is doing. His opening statement for Thursday’s hearing was fairly colorful and worth reading to get a sense on how the House is feeling about the SBA: “We are not asking you to defend the SBA. We are asking you to do your best to fix it.”

Maria Contreras-Sweet responded to the Committee’s concerns by outlining SBA’s achievements for 2015. “To summarize: A record year in small business lending, a record year in investment, a record year in contracting, with zero taxpayer subsidy needed to sustain our momentum. This is the context in which today’s hearing takes place.”

When Chairman Chabot asked the Administrator for her commitment to resolve the outstanding GAO recommendations by June 30, 2016, she replied, “Mr. Chairman, I was able to touch the Pope while he was here, and I’m hoping it imbues me with the ability to fulfill [your deadlines.]” Contreras-Sweet said that she would work with the Committee and is committed to addressing the GAO report recommendations in a timely manner.

For an idea of how the questioning went, Representative Chris Gibson (R-NY-19) said the focus is on improving ‘disturbing finding’ and ‘nothing has been done.’ Administrator Sweet responded that when she looked up what previous administrations had done, they took one action whereas she’s already taken 47.

Watch the full Committee hearing with Maria Contreras-Sweet.

Women Entrepreneurs 10 Million Strong

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) has released their newest Annual Report: 10 Million Strong – The Tipping Point for Women’s Entrepreneurship. It’s full of good data on women’s entrepreneurship as well as a bunch of policy recommendations for improving it. According to NWBC,

Women are starting 1,200 new businesses per day – they are inventing products, solving problems, creating jobs and supporting their communities. The impact is undeniable and the growth is unprecedented, but we have a long way to go before reaching parity. Women continue to lack access to some of the most crucial assets, capital and markets, necessary to launch and grow their businesses. We are at a tipping point. It’s a time for celebration, but also a call-to-action to effectively sustain this momentum. Hence the title for this year’s report.

The Goodies

New opportunities for training, conference information, funding, scholarships, and other information that have crossed our desks since the last Must Know. I have posted a running tab of current Industry Goodies on the CAMEO website that lists items that were in past emails. Check it out to make sure you’re not missing anything, like grants whose deadlines are still alive!

For Your Client: As of January 1, 2016 California employers are subject to nine new laws. Thanks to Cutting Edge for this post and keeping us all informed.

State Workforce Plans: A series of ‘Roadshows for Public Input’ on the State Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will be held around the state this month. The purpose is to communicate the vision and strategies; receive feedback/input on how the State (via the State Plan) can better facilitate regional leadership, alignment with industry, system integration for scale, new ideas and innovative practices, etc; engage local boards and their stakeholders; set-up for WIOA regional planning.

For Your Clients: The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced a series of 15 workshops across California designed to help businesses apply for the California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC). Your clients can benefit from the $75 million in tax credits available to business that want to come to California or stay and grow in California. The next application session is from January 4-25, 2016. A number of very small businesses have received tax credits of $20,000 or more, including an accounting services firm, a commercial printer and an animal memorial services company. Go-Biz is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 10:30am.

For Your Client: National Small Business Week has been recognizing the special impact made by outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners since 1963. During this week, the U.S. Small Business Administration honors small business owners and entrepreneurs for their outstanding achievements through various awards. The deadline is January 11, 2016.

CAMEO Speaking: Claudia will talk about microbusiness on an access to capital panel during the Small Business Summit put on by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) on January 19, 2016. All small businesses are welcome – tell your clients about it! There will be presentations on the new California Business Portal, small business financing, trade and export resources, state tax credits and incentives, and much more. The details: free to attend, 8:00am – 3:00pm at Milton Marks Auditorium, 455 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102.

Women-Owned Small Business Chat: Join WIPP for an online chat with Sean Crean and Alison Mueller of the SBA to discuss the WOSB set aside program and its new legislation. Ann Sullivan will moderate the conversation insuring all points of interest are covered, and will field your questions from the audience. Register for the call on January 19, 2016 at 11:00am PST // 2:00pm EST. Contact Lin Stuart for questions.

Funding Opportunity: The U.S. SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership announces a Women’s Business Center Grant Opportunity. The purpose of this grant is to provide funding for up to six (6) non-profit organizations that will provide services to the population of Alaska, California, Guam, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas or West Virginia to start a new, community-based Women’s Business Center (WBC). Deadline is January 28, 2016.

CFED Scorecard: Join CFED at 9:00am PST // noon EST on Monday, January 25 for the webinar release of the 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard. Each year, the Scorecard offers the most comprehensive look available at Americans’ financial security today and their opportunities to create a more prosperous future. One highlight is particularly concerning – the growing divide between white-owned and minority-owned businesses.

AEO National Conference: Save the date May 18-20, 2016 in Washington, DC to celebrate 25 years! EconoCon25 gathers actors in the small business space who impact America’s smallest businesses and underserved entrepreneurs — lenders, nonprofit and for-profit service providers, advocates and policy makers, entrepreneurs, funders and investors — for meaningful dialogue about how to innovate faster, partner smarter, and execute better.