What an upturn in optimism and small business growth I have been honored to witness over the last two years as administrator over SBA’s Region 7 states of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa. I worked with small businesses for many years prior to my current position. I am now seeing firsthand small business resilience and their owner’s confidence in the future return.
Far from the downturn during the recession, numerous reports and analysis today show that the vast majority of America’s 31 million small businesses are optimistic. I am seeing that optimism in action as small businesses expand, raise wages, offer health benefits and hire more. They are responding to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s economic incentives and increased options for health coverage; the ongoing effort to remove federal regulations that disproportionately harm them and the coordinated federal approach to business growth policies. Small businesses are once again bringing in a profit and can concentrate on how to grow.
Small businesses are responsible for about two-thirds of the net new jobs created each year in the United States. Small business success fuels the American dream.
Changes in the SBA have aided our upward economic trend, too.
The agency continues to focus on expanded educational and financial assistance to core clients — veterans, disadvantaged business owners, women and minority business owners. The SBA will soon expand outreach to historically black colleges and universities and also expand export and international trade counseling and training to help all small businesses expand as two new trade deals, the U. S. Mexico and Canada Agreement and the China phase one trade deal, bring more opportunity.
A powerful new vehicle, Opportunity Zones, was recently established to incentivize private investors to capitalize economic growth and job creation in disadvantaged American communities. Our SBA staff members are amplifying these and other types of SBA assistance available as small businesses identify profitable opportunities within the project areas.
In addition, the SBA will continue to build on the last fiscal year’s impact in the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. Nationally, the SBA supported over $34 billion in loans to more than 63,000 borrowers and within our states 2,086 of those borrowers shared in more than $1.1 billion. SBA-assisted small businesses shared in over $2.9 billion in federal contracts in fiscal 2019 out of about $121 billion in annual federal small business awards nationally.
SBA funded resource partners, including our Veteran’s Business Center, in Region 7 counseled or trained 26,449 clients last fiscal year. Internet connections are increasingly used to access these services and new federal grants to expand rural broadband internet connections will further help small businesses outside our urban areas connect with us. To assure rural as well as urban entrepreneurs have access to the SBA, we continue to educate rural lenders and communities about all federal lending programs and SBA assistance. Region 7 employees visited more than 175 rural communities last fiscal year.
Many businesses and entrepreneurs the SBA serves would not have access to capital and contracting to start, grow or expand their small businesses except for our agency.