I recently interviewed Karen Mills, who was appointed by President Obama as SBA Administrator. Mills was president of MMP Group in Brunswick, Maine. She, with two other partners, founded Solera Capital, a New York-based venture capital firm. Mills also served as chairwoman of the Governor's Council on Competitiveness and the Economy for the state of Maine. In that role, she worked with the council to attract federal investment in rural and regional development initiatives.
How should small business interpret President Obama’s recent tax speech?
M: The number one concern of small business is access to affordable health care. Many small businesses do not provide health care. Presently, they pay up to 18% more for the same coverage as big business does. In his health care speech, President Obama outlined the exchange which will bring down costs because it pools more people and would permit small businesses to avoid the premium they are now paying.
What resources are available if CIT (a major resource for small businesses) should fail?
M: Small businesses need access to credit in order to grow and survive. They need access to all kinds of credit; depending on their particular needs. One aspect of our mission at the SBA is to advise and counsel small businesses on a business plan going forward. One component is to have them think about what kind of financing is right. The SBA has 900 small business development centers and over 12,000 members of our volunteer organization, SCORE. These are retired executives who help businesses. I would advise a small business to establish a relationship with an advisor. These are free services.
Explain how businesses can become involved in The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act?
M: Presently, we are working towards meeting our goals for women, minority and veteran owned businesses. But many recovery act dollars are still available and we need to make sure that small businesses know how to access those opportunities; both Federal and state. We are doing hundreds of match making events across the country. We have what I call speed dating events but mostly, we are like a dating service and want to build long term relationships between suppliers and government contracting opportunities. I would encourage all small business owners to visit our website.
For more information- http://www.sba.gov/recovery/