As the Regional Administrator of the Atlantic region for the U.S. Small Business Administration, it is important to continually develop relationships with and engage our different small business communities throughout the region, and really understand the issues that small business owners and entrepreneurs face that are specific to their communities and to let them know how we can help.
Part of this engagement not only includes visiting small businesses and organizations throughout our region, but also recognizing them through programs like this year’s National Small Business Week where we honor some of the greatest contributors to the small business community as well as champions within the veteran, minority, and women’s business communities. The deadline for the program is fast approaching, with applications due by Jan. 31, 2013.
Part of our support to small businesses is to also help them in a time of need, such as during the recent Superstorm Sandy. Small businesses have needed help to recover from their losses and take the necessary steps to ensure their businesses can survive and continue to succeed. For the past few months we’ve conducted several outreach events to help business owners apply for aid, and included SBA representatives who can assist in translation services within our minority business communities. As of Jan. 24 the SBA has approved more than $1 billion ($1,021,428,800) in disaster loans to individuals and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Last year, I had the opportunity to join the team from the White House Asian American and Pacific Islander Initiative to visit with community leaders and representatives from AAPI organizations in Queens, New York.
We learned about the demographic trends in Queens, the challenges faced by the immigrant community there, and the ways in which community leaders, non-governmental organizations and small businesses have joined forces to create and build one of the most vibrant and diverse communities in the world.
During this visit, federal and community representatives came together to discuss how federal programs and services can better address the needs of this diverse and growing community, to include the challenges they face in accessing resources to provide for greater economic development. The programs and resources available to small business owners and entrepreneurs by the U.S. Small Business Administration are meant to be applicable to a wide array of audiences, regardless of race, ethnicity, or cultural and language differences.
Fiscal year 2012 was SBA Region II’s second largest loan volume year ever for the Asian community, second only to FY 2011, which received a significant boost in the first quarter from the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Loan approvals for FY 2012 for 7(a) and 504 combined reached nearly 800 loans and over $400 million. In the New York District, which encompasses Queens, FY 2012 saw the approval of 388 loans amounting to $223 million.
One great resource is the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The MBDA’s mission is to actively promote the growth and competitiveness of large, medium, and small minority businesses. In Fiscal Year 2011, 5,780 new jobs were created by minority-owned firms working with MBDA and its network of business center, and overall has created more than 16,300 new jobs for Americans between FY 2009-FY 2011.
The U.S. Small Business Administration and its wide network of resource partners, who provide free business counseling and training to small business owners and entrepreneurs, are deeply committed to supporting the growth of small businesses and their ability to access federal services in their languages, to include disaster services for businesses recently affected by Super Story Sandy. We understand that these small businesses are the drivers of the economy and the job creators of today and are proud to support them.
Jorge Silva Puras is the Regional Administrator of the Small Business Administration, Atlantic Region. The SBA Atlantic Region serves small business owners and entrepreneurs throughout New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.