• Wednesday , 22 November 2017

U.S. Small Business Administration News


Office of the Press Secretary


May 18, 2015


FACT SHEET: Creating Opportunity for All Through Stronger, Safer Communities


President Obama believes that in America everyone should be empowered by the country they call home, not limited by the zip code into which they are born.  That’s why the President’s agenda is focused on expanding opportunity for all:  restoring economic security to hard-hit American families; building stronger neighborhoods and communities; and ensuring young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential.


Today, in Camden, New Jersey, the President will highlight innovative steps taken by a city that has struggled with one of the nation’s highest violent crime rates to create economic opportunity, help police do their jobs more safely, and reduce crime in the process.  Changes include increasing the number of police officer boots on the ground and changing the way their officers interact with the community.  The Camden County Police Department has instituted a community policing initiative, and just last month, the city accepted the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge and was separately designated as a Promise Zone, representing the culmination of five years of collaborative efforts aimed at improving the quality of life for Camden children, youth, and families.


The President will also highlight how communities are adopting the recommendations of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and will highlight new tools all cities can utilize to build and maintain the all-important trust between the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day, and the communities they have sworn to serve and protect. These tools include:


  • A Blueprint for Improved Community Policing: The final Task Force Report provides a blue print for cities and towns to utilize as they develop policing strategies that work best for building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve while enhancing public safety.
  • The White House Police Data Initiative:  Leading jurisdictions have joined technologists, community organizations and police associations to commit to use data and technology in ways that build community trust and reduce unnecessary uses of force.
  • Community Policing Grants: The Department of Justice (DOJ) will begin taking applications for grants designed to advance the practice of community policing in law enforcement agencies through hiring, training and technical assistance, the development of innovative community policing strategies, applied research, guidebooks, and best practices that are national in scope.
  • A Body-Worn Camera Tool Kit:  Earlier this month, the DOJ announced a new pilot grant program that will help local law enforcement agencies develop, implement, and evaluate body-worn camera programs, and today, DOJ is releasing an online clearinghouse of resources designed to help law enforcement professionals and the communities they serve plan and implement body-worn camera (BWC) programs.
  • Partnerships with National Law Enforcement Focused Organizations to Implement Recommendations: With support from the Department of Justice, nine law enforcement-focused organizations will develop national-level, industry-wide projects for several of the pillars outlined in the Task Force Report.
  • Equipment Working Group Final Report: A federal interagency working group—led by the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security – has now completed an extensive review of federal programs that support the acquisition of equipment by state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.  On the basis of that review, the working group developed a series of concrete steps to enhance accountability, increase transparency, and better serve the needs of law enforcement and local communities.


In addition, over the next few weeks, members of the President’s Cabinet will be traveling across the country to lift up best practices and highlight other cities where local leaders are partnering with federal agencies, foundations, private sector partners, and police departments to improve the quality of life in their communities on issues from healthcare to education to transparency in policing.  Secretary Castro will visit Fullerton, CA, Kansas City, and St. Louis; Secretary Duncan will travel to Philadelphia; Secretary Foxx will travel to Charlotte; Secretary Perez will travel to Minneapolis, New Haven, and Pittsburgh; and Secretary Vilsack will travel to Memphis.


Additionally, Attorney General Lynch will travel to Cincinnati as part of a national Community Policing tour that will highlight collaborative programs and innovative policing practices designed to advance public safety, strengthen police-community relations, and foster mutual trust and respect.  The tour will build on President Obama’s commitment to engage with law enforcement, local leaders, young people and other members of the community to implement key recommendations from the 21st Century Policing Task Force report.


The administration is deeply engaged with these communities and others across the country, showing what can be achieved when people from all walks of life come together to expand opportunity for all Americans.


The Task Force on 21st Century Policing

Last December, President Barack Obama created the Task Force on 21st Century Policing with a mission to identify best practices and make recommendations on how such practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust.  The Task Force was chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and George Mason University Professor Laurie Robinson and included, among others, law enforcement representatives, community leaders, academics, and youth leaders.  Over several months, the Task Force held public hearings across the country; took testimony from over 100 witnesses; reviewed hundreds of written submissions and thoughtfully came to consensus on 59 concrete recommendations. The Task Force presented their interim report, including recommendations regarding policies, training, transparency, accountability, technology and officer safety and wellness, to the President in March, and today the final report is available HERE.


White House Police Data Initiative: Using Data and Technology to Build Community Trust

The Task Force Report emphasized the importance of data and technology in helping local law enforcement agencies excel in their work and build community trust.  Even when local law enforcement agencies are willing to explore new ways to use and release such data, there are often technical and other impediments to doing so.  To break down barriers, the White House, with assistance from foundations like the Laura & John Arnold Foundation, launched the Police Data Initiative (PDI) with police chiefs and municipal Chief Technology Officers from sixteen jurisdictions that we expect to be leaders in this space. Since the launch, five additional jurisdictions joined the effort.  As part of the initiative, these jurisdictions are working alongside technologists, community organizations and police associations to implement multiple commitments to action that leverage open data to increase transparency and build community trust, better utilize early warning systems to identify problems, increase internal accountability, and decrease inappropriate uses of force.  More information about the White House Police Data Initiative is available HERE.


Jurisdictions taking part in the White House Police Data Initiative (PDI) so far include: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Camden, NJ; Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC; Cincinnati, OH; Columbia, SC; Dallas, TX; Hampton, VA; Indianapolis, IN; Knoxville, TN;  Los Angeles, CA; LA County, CA; Louisville, KY; Montgomery County, MD; New Orleans, LA; Newport News, VA; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Richmond, CA; Rutland, VT; and Seattle, WA. 


Below are some highlights of the work these police departments are taking with other PDI participants:


Open Data to Build Transparency and Increase Community Trust

  • Twenty-one jurisdictions committed to release a combined total of 101 data sets that have not been released to the public.  The types of data include uses of force, police pedestrian and vehicle stops, citations, officer involved shootings and more, helping the communities gain visibility into key information on police/citizen encounters.


  • Code for America and CI Technologies will work together to build an open source software tool to make it easier for more than 500 U.S. law enforcement agencies using IA Pro police integrity software to extract and open up data.


  • To make police open data easy to find and use, the Police Foundation and ESRI will build a non-exclusive police open data portal to serve as a central clearinghouse option for police open data, making it easily accessible to community groups and researchers to analyze and see trends.


  • To help this newly released data come alive for communities through mapping, visualizations and other tools, city leaders, non-profit organizations, and private sector partners will host open data hackathons in cities around the country.


  • The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is working with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to use open data to provide a full picture of key policing activities, including stops, searches and use-of-force trends, information and demographics on neighborhoods patrolled, and more.   This partnership will build on a website and tools already developed by the Southern Coalition for Justice which provide visualization and search tools to make this data easily accessible and understandable.


  • Presidential Innovation Fellows, through the U.S. CTO and U.S. Chief Data Scientist will release an Open Data Playbook that police departments can use as a reference for open data best practices and case studies.


  • The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Foundation, and Code for America have committed to help grow communities of practice for law enforcement agencies and technologists around open data and transparency around police/community interactions.


Early Warning Systems and Data Research

  • While many police departments have systems in place, often called “early warning systems”, to identify officers who may be having challenges in their interactions with the public and link them with training, there has been little research to determine which indicators are most closely linked  to bad outcomes.  To tackle this issue, twelve police departments have committed to share data on police/citizen encounters with data scientists for in-depth data analysis, strengthening the ability of police to intervene early and effectively: Austin, TX; Camden, NJ; Charlotte, NC; Dallas, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Knoxville, TN; LA City; LA County; Louisville, KY; New Orleans, LA; Philadelphia, PA and Richmond, CA.


  • The University of Chicago will provide a team of five data science fellows from the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good program to work with 3-4 police departments over a 14 week engagement, starting in late May to begin to prototype data analysis tools that will help police departments identify the behaviors most indicative of later problems.


  • Today in Camden, NJ, the city will welcome a Police Data Initiative Tech Team. This volunteer team of technology experts and data scientists will spend two days with Camden PD. They will focus on key technology systems with a goal of helping the Camden police enhance analysis and gain greater insights on officer activity. The goal is for the Camden PD to begin developing the solutions that surface potential problems before they happen while pointing to best practices that other departments can follow.


Body-Worn Camera Initiative: Identifying Most Effective Practices for Body-Worn Camera Use

The Task Force recommended steps the federal government could take to encourage adoption of body-worn cameras (BWC), while also noting that such cameras pose privacy and implementation challenges.  Earlier this month, DOJ announced a $20 million Body-Worn Camera Pilot Partnership Program designed to respond to the immediate needs of local and tribal law enforcement organizations.  Today, DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance launched the National Body-Worn Camera Toolkit, an online clearinghouse of resources designed to help law enforcement professionals and the communities they serve plan and implement BWC programs.  The toolkit consolidates and translates research, promising practices, templates and tools that have been developed by subject matter experts.  Areas of focus include procurement; training; implementation; retention and policies along with interests of prosecutors, defense attorneys, victim and privacy advocates and community members.


Community Policing Grants: Helping Communities Implement Innovative Policing Strategies

The Task Force recommended that DOJ, through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) provide incentives for state and local law enforcement to adopt the recommendations.  Today, the COPS office will launch solicitations for grants and technical assistance that are closely aligned with the recommendations.  Funding is available for local law enforcement agencies committed to implementing the recommendations and to adopting policies that build community trust, including through hiring, training, initiating pilot projects, and developing new guidance and best practices.  Grants will be awarded this fall.  For further information about how the COPS office is supporting for implementation of the Task Force recommendations click HERE.


Partnering with National Law Enforcement Organizations to Implement Recommendations

With support from the COPS Office, law enforcement focused organizations including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Police Executive Research Forum, the National Sheriffs’ Association, Major County Sheriffs, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Police Foundation, will develop national-level, industry-wide projects for several of the pillars outlined in the Task Force Report.  Supported activities will range from the creation of positive and meaningful  engagement opportunities between law enforcement and youth, identification of best practices for engaging the community in the mutual responsibility of public safety, exploration of the circumstances and causality behind documented line-of-duty injuries, and promotion of officer safety and well-being.


The Major Cities Chiefs Association will also be partnering with the COPS Office to host three roundtable convenings of member chiefs to discuss the implementation of selected recommendations from the Task Force Report.  The discussions will explore experiences and lessons from agencies that may have implemented some of the recommendations, including associated challenges, and the role of senior leaders making the changes called for in the Task Force Report. Key ideas from the discussion will be captured and shared with the field through a report on the discussions. The first roundtable will take place in Nashville, Tennessee in June.


In addition, the International Association of Chiefs of Police has committed to building a National Center for Community-Police Relations (NCCPR) which will provide support to any local law enforcement agencies that wish to address the issues raised in the Task Force Report.  Support will include: providing educational materials that will break down the Task Force recommendations for all levels of officer;  on-site culture assessments to determine the strengths and weaknesses of local agencies relating to the report’s six pillars; using the train-the-trainer model to create a national cadre of local agency officers who can train others on recommendation implementation; and leader-to-leader mentoring to allow leaders who have successfully implemented recommendations to work with those desiring to do so.


Helping Police Get People Needed Services

Since 2011, the Ford Foundation, with other foundations, has supported Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) in Seattle, an innovative arrest diversion program co-designed by police, prosecutors, public defenders, civil rights leaders and public health experts.  This evidence-based program lets law enforcement officers directly divert people, whom they could arrest for low-level crimes, such as drug or prostitution offenses, to case managers, who assist with housing, treatment and other supportive services, instead of using jail and prosecution.  An evaluation by the University of Washington, funded by the Arnold Foundation and released in March 2015, found that participants in the program had 58% lower odds of a subsequent arrest as compared to a control group. Equally important, it helps improve the relationship between the police and the people they encounter on the streets. Consistent with the Task Force recommendation that law enforcement agencies “emphasize . . . alternatives to arrest or summons in situations where appropriate,” the Ford Foundation plans to work with other foundations to provide technical assistance to jurisdictions around the country planning to implement LEAD.  Over 30 jurisdictions nationally have expressed interest and will be invited to a convening to be hosted by The White House and the Ford Foundation in July.


Equipment Working Group Final Report

In addition to the work completed by the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, a separate federal interagency working group—led by the Departments of Justice, Defense and Homeland Security – has now completed an extensive review of federal programs that support the transfer of equipment to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.  On the basis of that review, the working group developed a series of concrete steps to enhance accountability, increase transparency, and better serve the needs of law enforcement and local communities.  The President has directed departments and agencies to put the working group’s recommendations into practice and continue to partner with law enforcement and local communities during the implementation process. The working group report is available HERE.


  • The working group developed a unified list of prohibited equipment that may not be acquired under any of the various programs. This list includes tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, and large-caliber firearms.


  • The working group developed a unified list of equipment that law enforcement may acquire only in accordance with new and more rigorous controls.  This controlled list includes armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, riot gear, and specialized firearms and ammunition.


o   Uniform Acquisition Standards: Across all programs, the transfer of equipment on the controlled list will require the consent of the appropriate local civilian governing body (e.g., City Council, County Council, Mayor) as well as a clear and persuasive explanation of the need for the equipment and the appropriate law enforcement purpose that it will serve.


o   Training and Protocols: To receive such equipment, law enforcement agencies must commit to have in place “general policing” training standards, including training on community policing, constitutional policing, and community impact.  Agencies must also agree to protocols on the appropriate use, supervision, and operation of such equipment.


o   Required Data Collection: Law enforcement agencies must collect and retain certain information whenever such equipment is involved in a “significant incident.”   Upon request or during a compliance review, the law enforcement agency must provide this information to the federal agency that supported the equipment’s acquisition.  This information will also be made publicly available in accordance with the law enforcement agency’s applicable policies and protocols.


Dear Chamber Leaders:

Thank you for your continued support of our nation’s small businesses; they are the backbone of America’s economy. Day after day, our nation’s entrepreneurs work tirelessly to grow their firms, strengthen their local economies and enrich the communities they serve. Small businesses employ half of America’s workforce, and create two out of three new private sector jobs.

For more than 50 years, the SBA has coordinated the celebration of National Small Business Week. This year, National Small Business Week will occur from May 4th through 8th, and we need your involvement! During this week, we honor the American entrepreneurial spirit and the valuable contributions that our small businessmen and women make to our great nation.

We invite you to join Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet on a call Friday, April 24th at 3:30pm EST to find out how your Chamber can partake in National Small Business Week activities.

What: National Small Business Week Call with Chamber Leaders
When: Friday, April 24th at 3:30pm EST
Where: Participants may preregister for this teleconference at http://emsp.intellor.com?p=419657&do=register&t=8. Once the participant registers, a confirmation page will display dial-in numbers and a unique PIN, and the participant will also receive an email confirmation of this information.



Immigrant Entrepreneurs Help Fuel Record Growth Streak

By Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator

Published: February 6, 2015 Updated: February 6, 2015

If the U.S. jobs data released on the first Friday of every month is starting to sound like a broken record, it’s because records continue to be broken.

The American economy added 267,000 private-sector jobs in January. That’s 59 straight months of consecutive job growth, the longest streak on record by a mile. Our last three months of job growth has been the most in 17 years. Small businesses have been at the forefront of our ongoing expansion, accounting for 81 percent of the net new jobs in January, according to ADP data, which is higher than the historical two-thirds job creation rate of small firms.

Small businesses are also creating opportunities for two important segments of the labor market that have historically struggled: younger workers and immigrants.

At its peak, youth unemployment reached 27 percent during the recession – the highest in the 66 years that the federal government has kept track. Today, that number is down to 19 percent, a significant decline but still three times the national rate.

Meanwhile, foreign-born workers have similar unemployment rates compared to native-born workers, but they are paid 20 percent less. Immigrant-owned firms today employ 1 in 10 U.S. workers. Immigrant entrepreneurs are twice as likely to start a business as native-born citizens. While they account for 16 percent of the labor force nationally, immigrants make up 28 percent of Main Street Business owners. Immigrants represent 61 percent of all gas station owners, 53 percent of grocery store owners, 38 percent of restaurant owners, and 32 percent of jewelry store and clothing store owners, according to a recent nonpartisan study.

In other words, immigrants are actually creating jobs in neighborhoods where they’re needed the most. In so doing, they’re contributing to America’s entrepreneurial character.

The jobs report showed that the construction industry added 39,000 jobs last month. Immigrants have also helped drive these gains. Parag Mehta and Hitesh Kothari have been best friends since fourth grade, growing up together in Gujarat, India. They immigrated to the United States in 1983, became business partners, and bought the oldest hardware store in Connecticut with the assistance of a half-million dollar SBA loan. Their company began with three workers in the kitchen department. Today, their company, Express Kitchen employs 140 people and generates $17.5 million in annual revenue while competing against big box retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Headquartered in inner-city Hartford, Express Kitchen has seven locations and is in the process of opening an eighth. In recent years, the company has hired more than 40 low-skilled workers and inner-city youth through a partnership with the local workforce development board to up-skill under-employed workers to assemble and install kitchen cabinets.

Today, Express Kitchen is working closely with an SBA counseling partner, their local SCORE chapter, on an aggressive long-term expansion plan in which they are standardizing processes with the goal of opening five more stores and doubling their workforce.

It is small businesses like Express Kitchen – committed to local economic development and urban revitalization – that are the true unsung heroes of America’s economic recovery. They’re the driving force behind our job market’s string of broken records, and the SBA is committed to helping more entrepreneurs sing the same tune.




Office of the Press Secretary


January 9, 2015


FACT SHEET: White House Unveils America’s College Promise Proposal: Tuition-Free Community College for Responsible Students


Nearly a century ago, a movement that made high school widely available helped lead to rapid growth in the education and skills training of Americans, driving decades of economic growth and prosperity. America thrived in the 20th century in large part because we had the most educated workforce in the world.  But other nations have matched or exceeded the secret to our success. Today, more than ever, Americans need more knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a growing global economy without having to take on decades of debt before they even embark on their career.


Today the President is unveiling the America’s College Promise proposal to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost. This proposal will require everyone to do their part: community colleges must strengthen their programs and increase the number of students who graduate, states must invest more in higher education and training, and students must take responsibility for their education, earn good grades, and stay on track to graduate. The program would be undertaken in partnership with states and is inspired by new programs in Tennessee and Chicago. If all states participate, an estimated 9 million students could benefit. A full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year.


In addition, today the President will propose a new American Technical Training Fund to expand innovative, high-quality technical training programs similar to Tennessee Tech Centers that meet employer needs and help prepare more Americans for better paying jobs. These proposals build on a number of historic investments the President has made in college affordability and quality since taking office, including a $1,000 increase in the maximum Pell Grant award to help working and middle class families, the creation of the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit, reforming student loans to eliminate subsidies to banks to invest in making college more affordable and keeping student debt manageable, and making available over $2 billion in grants to connect community colleges with employers to develop programs that are designed to get hard-working students good jobs.


The President’s Plan: Make Two Years of College as Free and Universal as High School


By 2020, an estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree and 30 percent will require some college or an associate’s degree. Forty percent of college students are enrolled at one of America’s more than 1,100 community colleges, which offer students affordable tuition, open admission policies, and convenient locations.  They are particularly important for students who are older, working, need remedial classes, or can only take classes part-time. For many students, they offer academic programs and an affordable route to a four-year college degree. They are also uniquely positioned to partner with employers to create tailored training programs to meet economic needs within their communities such as nursing, health information technology, and advanced manufacturing.


The America’s College Promise proposal would create a new partnership with states to help them waive tuition in high-quality programs for responsible students, while promoting key reforms to help more students complete at least two years of college. Restructuring the community college experience, coupled with free tuition, can lead to gains in student enrollment, persistence, and completion transfer, and employment. Specifically, here is what the initiative will mean:


Enhancing Student Responsibility and Cutting the Cost of College for All Americans: Students who attend at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA while in college, and make steady progress toward completing their program will have their tuition eliminated. These students will be able to earn half of the academic credit they need for a four-year degree or earn a certificate or two-year degree to prepare them for a good job.


Building High-Quality Community Colleges: Community colleges will be expected to offer programs that either (1) are academic programs that fully transfer to local public four-year colleges and universities, giving students a chance to earn half of the credit they need for a four-year degree, or (2) are occupational training programs with high graduation rates and that lead to degrees and certificates that are in demand among employers.  Other types of programs will not be eligible for free tuition.  Colleges must also adopt promising and evidence-based institutional reforms to improve student outcomes, such as the effective Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) programs at the City University of New York which waive tuition, help students pay for books and transit costs, and provide academic advising and supportive scheduling programs to better meet the needs of participating students, resulting in greater gains in college persistence and degree completion.


Ensuring Shared Responsibility with States: Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college. States that choose to participate will be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate community college tuition for eligible students. States that already invest more and charge students less can make smaller contributions, though all participating states will be required to put up some matching funds. States must also commit to continue existing investments in higher education; coordinate high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions to reduce the need for remediation and repeated courses; and allocate a significant portion of funding based on performance, not enrollment alone. States will have flexibility to use some resources to expand quality community college offerings, improve affordability at four-year public universities, and improve college readiness, through outreach and early intervention.


Expanding Technical Training for Middle Class Jobs. Additionally, in order to spread the availability of high-quality and innovative programs like those in Tennessee and Texas, which achieve better than average completion and employment outcomes, the President is also proposing the American Technical Training Fund. This fund will award programs that have strong employer partnerships and include work-based learning opportunities, provide accelerated training, and are scheduled to accommodate part-time work. Programs could be created within current community colleges or other training institutions. The focus of the discretionary budget proposal would be to help high-potential, low-wage workers gain the skills to work into growing fields with significant numbers of middle-class jobs that local employers are trying to fill such as energy, IT, and advanced manufacturing. This program will fund the start-up of 100 centers and scale those efforts in succeeding years. Smaller grants would help to bring together partners and start a pilot program. Larger grants would be used for expanding programs based on evidence of effectiveness, which could include past performance on graduation rates, job placement rates and placement wages. Building on the President’s community college initiative, known as the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants and for which 2014 was the final year of funding, these funds will help community colleges become more job-driven.


Building on State and Local Programs.  In the past year, Tennessee and the City of Chicago initiated free community college programs.  In the first year of the Tennessee program, 57,000 students representing almost 90 percent of the state’s high school graduating class applied for the program. The scholarship is coupled with college counseling, mentorship, and community service that early evidence suggests supports greater enrollment, persistence and college completion.  This is coupled with efforts to spur innovation and improvement by funding colleges using performance outcomes based on student success and an innovative approach to career and technical education through the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.  These Tennessee Tech Centers have a graduation rate of 80 percent and a job placement rate of 85 percent.


Building on a Record of Progress. Since taking office, President Obama has taken steps to expand federal support to help more students afford college, while calling for a shared responsibility in tackling rising college costs. Key achievements include:


  • Doubling the Investment in Pell Grants: The President has raised the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,730 for the 2014-15 award year — a nearly $1,000 increase since 2008. The number of Pell Grant recipients has expanded by 50 percent over that same time.
  • Expanding Education Tax Credits: President Obama established the American Opportunity Tax Credit in 2009 to assist families with the costs of college, providing up to $10,000 for four years of college tuition.


  • Pay-As-You-Earn Loans: All new borrowers can now cap loan payments at 10 percent of their incomes. The Department of Education has begun the process to amend its regulations and will make the new plan available on all direct loans by December 2015. We expect it to benefit up to 5 million borrowers.


  • First in the World Grants: In September, the Department of Education awarded $75 million to 24 colleges and universities under the new First in the World grant program to expand college access and improve student learning while reducing costs.


  • College Ratings Program: The Department of Education continues to develop a college ratings system by the 2015-2015 school year that will recognize institutions that excel at enrolling students from all backgrounds; focus on maintaining affordability; and succeed at helping all students graduate with a degree or certificate of value.


  • Job-Driven Training Grants: Through the Trade Adjustment Community College and Career Training program more than 1,000 institutions have received $2 billion in federal funding to design education and training programs, working closely with employers and industry that prepare workers for jobs in-demand in their regional economies, such as health care, information technology and energy. These programs have shown early success — through the end of FY2013, among the nearly 164,000 individuals who had enrolled in these programs 88 percent either completed a program or continued the program into a second year.


  • White House Summit on Community Colleges: In October 2010, the President convened community college leaders, faculty and students; business leaders; philanthropic organizations; and other workforce development experts for the first White House summit dedicated to the role that community colleges play in our efforts to increase the number of college graduates and prepare those graduates to lead the 21st century workforce.


  • Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness: Last August, the Department of Education launched a new $10 million Institute for Education Sciences-funded Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) that is working to strengthen the research, evaluation, and support of college readiness efforts across the nation. CAPR is documenting current practices in developmental English and math education to identify innovative instructional practices that improve student success.


  • Call to Action on College Opportunity: Last December, the President, Vice President, and First Lady joined college presidents and leaders of non-profits, foundations, and other organizations to announce over 600 new commitments to produce more college graduates. Community colleges made commitments individually, and in partnership with neighboring school districts and four-year institutions, to build seamless transitions among institutions, develop clear educational and career pathways, implement strategies to increase student completion of STEM programs, and establish more accurate measures of student progress and success.




SBA and My Brother’s Keeper Helping Millennials Hire Themselves

By Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator

Published: December 1, 2014

Global Entrepreneurship Week made waves across the world last month as the United States announced it would marshal new partners and lead a $1 billion push to invest in global entrepreneurs in some of the world’s most marginalized societies.

On Day 1 of the special week, hours before I left for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Morocco, I announced an important new partnership here at home between the SBA and the White House My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to support young entrepreneurs.

During an event at Prince George’s Community College in Hyattsville, Md., I talked about the need to educate and empower more Millennials from underserved communities to pursue their dream of starting a business, because entrepreneurship can be a viable path toward economic self-sufficiency.

In many ways, Millennials, 18 to 30, were born to be entrepreneurs. They’re the largest generation in our country, even bigger than the Baby Boomers, numbering 86 million strong. They’re the most diverse generation we’ve ever produced and the most educated. They’re the first generation to have grown up with the Internet and are trailblazers in social media, a critical tool for small business growth.

Despite their promise, unemployment remains stubbornly high for young Americans. One in four Millennials is currently out of work. Young people who grow up in underserved communities face unique challenges, including higher rates of poverty and unemployment. Young African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans under the age of 25 are twice as likely to be unemployed.

Those who made a wrong turn and have a criminal conviction face an even greater challenge. Even if it was for a minor offense, many who’ve been incarcerated are unable to ever find a fulfilling job that pays a livable wage. But one of the unique things about America is you can hire yourself

Between one half and two thirds of Millennials surveyed say they aspire to start their own business. The SBA’s new outreach campaign will show more of them how to do so.

First, we will conduct a public awareness campaign using successful entrepreneurs as national surrogates to educate and inform Millennials about the resources available to them.

Second, we will conduct an in-person, national tour of community colleges, minority-serving institutions, and community organizations. Community colleges are the new stars of our economy, offering an education that’s accessible, affordable and applicable to today’s job market.

Third, we are developing a free online training module to help individuals with the greatest barriers to employment, including Americans with past incarcerations or court involvement. SBA’s Millennial Entrepreneurs Initiative will show them how to harness their talents so they can support their families, pay their taxes and contribute to our economy.

Finally, we’re developing a Business Smart toolkit that can be used by faith-based and community organizations to teach entrepreneurial basics and financial literacy. We’ll leverage My Brother’s Keeper’s national grassroots network, so more nonprofit organizations connect their clients with free business advisers in the SBA network, who can help them plot their start-up strategy.

President Obama has called entrepreneurship “the most powerful force the world has ever known for creating opportunity and lifting people out of poverty.” SBA’s new Millennial Entrepreneurs initiative heeds the call of My Brother’s Keeper by providing new tools to help young people from all walks of life succeed in business and become role models in their communities.

About the Author:

Maria Contreras-Sweet

SBA Administrator

Maria Contreras-Sweet is the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA helps both Main Street and high-growth small businesses get access to capital, counseling, federal contracts, disaster assistance and more.






1. SACRAMENTO BEE — SBA’s chief rolls into Sacramento to tout small business help
By Lisa Philip
August 26, 2014

The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration rolled into town Tuesday morning to spread the word about her agency’s resources for small businesses.

“Some people have a rich uncle, and others have Uncle Sam,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, a former state agency head and founder of a Latino-owned community bank in Southern California.

Entrepreneurs without “rich uncles” or collateral often struggle to get business loans from banks, she noted, but everyone should be able to access business capital through the federal SBA.

Among the 15 local business owners who were invited to Tuesday’s gathering were a number of women-owned businesses, ranging from a cupcake baker to a specialty cleaning company.

Clarissa Ponce, for instance, quit her job and started Sugar Bake Cupcakes in May 2013. “It was scary,” she said. “But the SBA taught me how to start a small business and how to network, network, network.”

Loan guarantees are one of the SBA’s primary offerings to small businesses, along with educational workshops, government contracting assistance, financial advising and mentoring.

The Tuesday event was hosted by SearchPros Staffing, a woman-owned business in Citrus Heights that bought its building in 2005, using an SBA real estate loan. SearchPros was named California’s Small Business of the Year in 2011.

Tina Reynolds, the self-described “chief juggler” of marketing firm Uptown Studios, thanked Contreras-Sweet for the SBA’s financial assistance in growing her 13-employee business. “I bought a building with the help of an SBA loan. You’re my favorite agency right now,” Reynolds said.

Contreras-Sweet, who was joined Tuesday by Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, also talked up the SBA’s Community Advantage Program. Launched in 2011, the program guarantees loans smaller than $250,000 through a streamlined application process that’s geared to helping minority and women-owned small businesses, especially in underserved markets.

A few of the business owners at Tuesday’s event had never used SBA loans, but have taken advantage of its advising and educational workshops

Maria Isabel Garcia founded the Science of Cleaning in 1996 and turned to the SBA for advice on how to survive financially during the recent recession. “Everybody had a hard situation,” she said. “But the SBA gave advice and allowed me to just keep going, survive … to go very slow, but steady. I think next year will start to get a lot better.”

Garcia, who immigrated from Mexico City to California 17 years ago, credited the SBA with helping minorities. “We have the courage to do something, but it’s hard because we don’t know how things work here,” she said. “The SBA helps us to start something.”

An immigrant herself, who came to the U.S. from Mexico at age 5 with her mother and siblings, Contreras-Sweet was named head of the SBA in April by President Barack Obama. Before her appointment, she founded ProAmerica Bank, a Latino-owned community bank in Los Angeles, and served as secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

2. FORBES — Two Reasons To Be Sweet On Maria Contreras-Sweet
By Ty Kiisel
August 26, 2014

The Small Business Administration (SBA) might not be the biggest guarantor of small business loans in the United States, but they definitely set the tone for traditional small business lenders like banks and credit unions—even those institutions that are not part of the SBA network. I’ve mentioned before how much I like what the SBA did last fall when they removed fees on their 7(a) loan guarantees under $150,000. As a result SBA-backed loans in that category are up 15 percent from last year. I also like the new Administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet’s, push in her first 100 days to make loan decisions faster and provide more capital to Main Street (where the lion’s share of jobs are created).

In an article published this week in American Banker, Contreras-Sweet said, “In my first 100 days as administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, I’ve participated in constructive exchanges with bankers all across the country gathering insight about how we can get more capital into the hands of America’s small businesses. We understand that feedback coming from the lending community is essential and we want to say loud and clear to everyone who has shared their thoughts … we are listening.”

Lenders are asking the SBA to modernize and simplify the lending process and enhance existing programs like the 7(a) and 504 loan programs. Both programs have a high potential to positively impact the market, build a strong small business community, and create jobs.

What are the two reasons to be sweet on Contreras-Sweet? Her top priorities. The simplest way to achieve success is to prioritize a list of objectives and tackle them by starting at the top and working down. I like her two top priorities:

Implement smart systems that encourage SBA lenders to provide more capital to Main Street

The connection between job creation and a thriving Main Street is well documented. Contreras-Sweet’s predecessor, Karen Mills, regularly stated that roughly half of the workforce in the United States is employed by Main Street and 75 percent of new jobs are created there.

“Just recently, we launched the SBA’s credit scoring tool for 7(a) loans, which effectively streamlines underwriting guidelines for loans under $350,000,” she writes. “This online tool automates a major piece of required credit analysis through the use of a dynamic and predictive scoring system. The result is an objective assessment of risk that allows the lending process to become faster, fairer, and more accurate and consistent—expediting access to much-needed capital for entrepreneurs and business owners.”

This is a huge step toward paring down the time it traditionally takes from application to close. Previously the process is far too cumbersome and I’m very encouraged to see the SBA working hard to make it more attractive for lenders to help Main Street with the smaller loan amounts they’re looking for. What’s more, the underwriting burden of a loan for less than $350,000 should be handled differently from a $1 million-dollar loan (at least in my opinion).

The upcoming launch of SBA One

According to Contreras-Sweet: “In an effort to save banks thousands of dollars and hours of paperwork, we are gearing up to launch SBA One, an interactive, user-friendly lending platform that will automate the upload of documents, generation of forms, and accept electronic signatures. By facilitating expedited decisions on loan applications and digitalizing paperwork, we trust the loan application experience will prove to be faster, simpler and more effective for our lending partners and small business-owners alike.”

It makes sense to focus on making the process easier and more cost efficient for SBA lenders. When a $50,000 to $100,000 SBA loan is as profitable to process as a $500,000 SBA loan, Main Street will have greater access to the capital they need. A great next step would be to adjust the qualifying requirements for small business owners on loan amounts of $100,000 or less. Making it a little easier for Main Street business owners to qualify for low-interest fixed-rate financing in that category would have a big impact.

Granted, the SBA is not a perfect organization, but I freely admit to being a big fan of much of what Maria Contreras-Sweet is doing to help some of the same small business owners we work with every day at Lendio.

“The SBA is committed to modernizing and simplifying its lending practices and, under the Obama Administration, the agency has eliminated pages of regulations that were blocking the capital pipeline and hindering the growth of our economy,” she said.

Congratulations on your first 100 days. I’m looking forward to what you will accomplish in the next 100.

3. SACRAMENTO BUSINESS JOURNAL (CA) — SBA administrator: Agency is expanding efforts to help small companies
By Mark Anderson
August 26, 2014

In a meeting with Sacramento-area business owners Tuesday, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration said the agency is stepping up efforts to help companies grow.

The SBA is working on two new efforts to get more loans out into the market, said Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the SBA. She spoke at a forum for small businesses in Citrus Heights at the offices of SearchPros Staffing LLC, a two-time recipient of SBA loans.

One SBA effort began in July with a new way of looking at loan applications. The agency now looks at an applicant’s total business financial records, rather than just the owner’s credit score. In the past, if the owner didn’t have an adequate credit score, that was the end of it. Now the agency is looking at the owner’s finances and the business together.

“If as an owner you go into your own finances to make sure you cover payroll, that should not count against you,” Contreras-Sweet said. The agency’s new scoring adjusts credit thresholds based on the owner’s own credit score and the books of the business.

And a new program that will start sometime in the near future is a new online system for banks that work with the SBA. The agency now transmits loan documentation to banks by fax. A new online system will streamlines the process on secure servers. That program will be for any size loan in the agency’s popular SBA 7(a) program.

The SBA guarantees loans through two main programs: the SBA 7(a) loan, which can be used for inventory, working capital or real estate; and the SBA 504 loan, which is a long-term real estate loan.

SearchPros, which has often been listed by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing businesses in the country, got an SBA 7(a) loan when it was starting out, and then several years ago received an SBA 504 loan when it bought its building, said company co-founder Myla Ramos.

Tina Reynolds, founder of Uptown Studios in Sacramento, is getting a loan for a larger building. Her offices will go from leasing 900 square feet in a bungalow-style house to 4,000 square feet in a warehouse.

Reynolds said it was only the SBA guarantee that made it possible for her to get the loan, which only requires a 10 percent down payment. Most conventional loans require at least 20 percent down payment.

“You are my favorite agency right now,” Reynolds said.

4. AMERICAN BANKER–Expect Faster SBA Loan Decisions, Contreras-Sweet Says
Maria Contreras-Sweet
AUG 25, 2014 12:00pm ET

In my first 100 days as the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, I’ve participated in constructive exchanges with bankers all across the country gathering insight about how we can get more capital into the hands of America’s small businesses. We understand that feedback from the lending community is essential and we want to say loud and clear to everyone who has shared their thoughts — including those in a recent issue of American Banker Magazine — that we are listening.

The two most important asks the SBA has heard from lenders are: modernize and simplify lending processes, and enhance existing lending programs, specifically 7(a) and 504 loans. Both practices, if done right, can foster the growth of American enterprises and maximize our economy’s job creation potential.

The SBA is committed to modernizing and simplifying its lending practices and, under the Obama administration, the agency has eliminated pages of regulations that were blocking the capital pipeline and hindering the growth of our economy.

First, we eliminated the wealth test so borrowers are no longer turned down for 7(a) and 504 loans because they enlist a wealthy investor to help underwrite their project. Secondly, we removed the nine-month rule, so as long as the expense is related to a 504 project, the loan covers it. Lastly, we changed our collateral rules to give borrowers more flexibility. This allows applicants to declare other assets when applying for a 504 loan in order to receive a lower interest rate. The SBA is committed to adopting common-sense reforms that make it easier both for borrowers and lenders.

One of my top priorities as SBA administrator is to implement smart systems that encourage our lending partners to provide more capital to Main Street. Just recently, we launched the SBA’s credit scoring tool for 7(a) loans, which effectively streamlines underwriting guidelines for loans under $350,000. This online tool automates a major piece of required credit analysis through the use of a dynamic and predictive scoring system. The result is an objective assessment of risk that allows the lending process to become faster, fairer, and more accurate and consistent — expediting access to much-needed capital for entrepreneurs and business owners.

And, we aren’t stopping there.

In an effort to save banks thousands of dollars and hours of paperwork, we are gearing up to launch SBA One, an interactive, user-friendly lending platform that will automate the upload of documents, generation of forms, and accept electronic signatures. By facilitating expedited decisions on loan applications and digitalizing paperwork, we trust that the loan application experience will prove to be faster, simpler and more effective for our lending partners and small business-owners alike.

The SBA’s 7(a) and 504 loans support over 650,000 jobs and granted nearly $30 billion in loans in fiscal year 2013. We are working to ensure 7(a) loans are accessible, inclusive and reflective of America’s diverse business community. Four out of five loan applications we receive from Hispanic- and African-American business owners are for $150,000 or less. As a result, the SBA has decided to reduce to zero our fees on loans under $150,000, which resulted to a 15% increase in our small-dollar lending.

The SBA’s 504 loan program was well received by the lending community, and we have heard your appeals to push for the reauthorization of its refinancing component. I have testified before the Senate and asked to restore lenders’ ability to make refinancing loans under this program. Currently, the 504 refinancing option is part of President Obama’s budget, and is awaiting approval from Congress.

Our nation’s lending community plays a crucial role in the growth and expansion of small businesses, and the health of our economy. The SBA looks forward to building stronger relationships with banks of all sizes and will continue to offer a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas, so please keep your valuable insight coming.

Together, we can find effective solutions that improve the lending process and facilitate the access of capital for America’s entrepreneurs.