Federal Government Releases Small Business Report, Work Lies Ahead

washington, d.c. capitol building
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To kick off National Small Business Week, the White House released a report outlining the steps they’ve taken to help small businesses and what lies ahead. I thought it might  be instructive to look at how effective those measures have been.

We begin with a bulleted list of their claimed accomplishments quoted from their press release, with my thoughts in parantheses. Let’s take it away:

  • 17 tax breaks for small businesses through the Recovery Act, the Small Business Jobs Act and other laws (At least moderately helpful, though many businesses would like to see more
  • $53 billion in SBA lending support for 113,000 small businesses at a time when traditional lending was frozen (Effective, but a lot more is still needed)
  • Nearly $100 billion in federal contracting dollars annually going to small businesses, with a new tool to help women-owned firms (The money helps. I wonder if this will get cut)
  • Support for small businesses to export their products and help meet the National Export Initiative’s goal to double exports in coming years (Jury is out. Need to see if exports actually double)
  • Free and low-cost counseling to more than 2 million entrepreneurs and small business owners (Cheap and helpful, though perhaps not for everyone)
  • Targeted mentoring and growth capital for high-growth small businesses – the biggest job creators – through new efforts like Startup America (Good idea. Targeting those businesses who can make a huge difference in the short-term is wise)
  • More stability and protection in financial markets as well as work to reduce regulatory barriers and costs (Jury’s very much out on this, and there’s a big divide on what constitutes drawing down regulations)

I think that’s a decent report card. The effort is there, and the funding and mentoring for small businesses are particularly welcome. But it’s clear by the limited gains in unemployment and economic prosperity that have been made that these programs have to continue, and be improved where they can be.

What lies ahead? The White House proposes “engaging young entrepreneurs,” a smart move considering how many returning soldiers and college graduates looking to strike out on their own. For their part, Congress has talked extensively about setting up small businesses with tools and support, but they’re also looking to cut a lot of programs. How that can be reconciled remains to be seen, but I’ll be eagerly following it nonetheless.

Don’t forget to thank a small business today. What are your thoughts on the report?

Photo credit to somadjinn at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1339420

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