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Small Businesses and their Place in the American Dream

Oct 16

Written by: Grants Office, LLC
Tuesday, October 16, 2012  RssIcon

By Ali Palmieri

In the recent presidential debates, there was a lot of mention of small businesses and how they make America tick. Also, in recent years, there has been a push for people to shop small and shop local and from this push came Small Business Saturday. People have defined owning your own business and working hard to achieve success in entrepreneurship as part of the American Dream.

The Small Business Administration's (SBA) philosophy and mission began to take shape in a number of predecessor agencies, largely as a response to the pressures of the Great Depression and World War II. Officially, the SBA was created on July 30, 1953, by President Eisenhower with the signing of the Small Business Act. Its function was and is to "aid, counsel, assist and protect, insofar as is possible, the interests of small business concerns." The mission of the SBA is to maintain and to strengthen the nation’s economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters.

Programs are put into place to focus on small and disadvantaged business, Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone), minorities, veterans and women in business and to give them the tools they need to succeed.

The 8(a) Business Development Program is an important resource for small businesses seeking business-development assistance. Named for Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, this program was created to help small and disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace. It also helps these companies gain access to federal and private procurement markets.

The SBA regulates and implements the HUBZone Program by determining which businesses are eligible to receive HUBZone contracts, maintaining a listing of qualified HUBZone small business that federal agencies can use to locate vendors, adjudicating protest of eligibility to receive HUBZone contracts and reporting to the Congress on the program's impact of employment and investment in HUBZone areas.

Minorities, veterans and women have their own offices they may reference when seeking assistance with their small businesses. There is the Minority Business Development Agency and Veterans may certify their businesses as Veteran-Owned or Service Disabled Veteran-Owned in order to take advantages of the resources that are available to them.

Women owned small businesses (WOSBs) or economically disadvantaged women owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) have specific advantages that have been put into place to level the competitive playing field in the small business landscape. A woman is presumed economically disadvantaged if she has a personal net worth of less than $750,000, her adjusted gross yearly income averaged over the three years preceding the certification does not exceed $350,000, and the fair market value of all her assets (including her primary residence and the value of the business concern) does not exceed $6 million.

Some business grants are available through state and local programs, non-profit organizations and other groups. Some states provide grants for expanding child care centers; creating energy efficient technology; and developing marketing campaigns for tourism. Recipients may have to match grant funds or become part of a loan program.

Loans are available for starting businesses, disaster assistance, export assistance, veterans and the military and others for special purposes. They range from assisting in acquiring and expanding a small business to providing financing to eligible small businesses for the planning, design or installation of a pollution control facility.

SBA has a Loans and Grants Search Tool that helps entrepreneurs identify what government financing programs may be available by using a series of questions including what state you are located in. The results will direct you to available funding through federal, state and local governments. There are also great resources such as checklists for loan applications.

In today's difficult economic climate, it is good to know that the presidential candidates are placing the spotlight in small business. America could not function without them and the fact the Small Business Administration is available can give entrepreneurs hope for achieving the American Dream.

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