New SBA head plans changes at agency; focus now is COVID-19

NEW YORK (AP) — The new head of the Small Business Administration says she expects to make changes at the company that she says will allow it to additional assist small firms devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, two days after she was sworn in, Isabella Casillas Guzman stated her speedy focus is implementing the small business provisions within the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package deal President Joseph Biden signed into regulation final week.

The nation has lost 400,000 companies for the reason that begin of the pandemic, Guzman stated, warning that “many more are at risk.”

Guzman expects small business provisions within the rescue package deal to assist, together with $10 billion to assist state lending to firms, and $100 million for a brand new program known as Community Navigator aimed at giving schooling and recommendation to struggling business homeowners. But, she stated, extra vaccinations in opposition to coronavirus and the $1,400 stimulus funds hundreds of thousands of Americans are receiving may also in the end help business by serving to the financial system recuperate.

Those are oblique help packages. The rescue package deal additionally included direct assist in the type of further money for the Paycheck Protection Program and greater than $28 billion in grants for eating places hammered by government-ordered shutdowns in the course of the virus outbreak.

Guzman already is aware of how the SBA operates, having been a deputy chief of employees at the company in the course of the Obama administration.

“We’ll be looking at our overall programs to see a path forward for small businesses,” she stated. Guzman acknowledged that the SBA’s function has modified dramatically on account of the pandemic; she stated the company has gotten consideration it by no means had prior to now.

The SBA’s lending focus over the previous year has been the PPP, which has permitted practically 8 million loans value greater than $700 billion. Before the pandemic, the company’s essential lending automobiles have been its 7(a) and 504 packages that homeowners turned to for loans to begin and build their companies. Those conventional lending packages may even see some changes, Guzman stated.

The administrator’s agenda additionally contains enhancing SBA technology to make it extra accessible to companies; she famous that many companies adopted or upgraded their technology so as to survive the virus outbreak.

“We just need to ensure that we’ve modernized the SBA,” she stated.

The SBA plans to make use of Community Navigator to collect info to assist it decide what changes it must make, Guzman stated. The program is aimed at working with neighborhood monetary establishments and SBA-sponsored Small Business Development Centers to assist struggling and deprived companies.

“That will provide us with a strong feedback loop from small businesses about what their needs are,” Guzman stated.

Before coming to the SBA, Guzman additionally served as director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate. She has held positions at firms together with ProAmerica Bank, a industrial financial institution in California, and GovContractPros, a consulting agency primarily based in Chevy Chase, Maryland, that she co-founded.

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