Is President Obama's announcement that he plans to consolidate the Small Business Administration with five other government offices into one agency and to elevate the SBA Administrator to a Cabinet-level position good news or bad news for small business? It may be too early to tell, but several small-business advocacy groups and associations did weigh in with some immediate reactions. Here are excerpts of what they had to say, starting with the SBA administrator herself:
Karen Mills, Administrator, Small Business Administration
"Today was an important day for America's small businesses. President Obama asked Congress for the authority to reorganize and modernize government and he elevated my position as the SBA Administrator to Cabinet-level status.
"These actions are a reflection of the importance he places on small business, economic growth, and job creation.
"He asked Congress for the authority that Presidents from Hoover to Reagan have had to reorganize and modernize the federal government. This authority lapsed in 1984, but, today, the federal government needs to be updated to ensure that it meets the demands of entrepreneurs and small business owners in the 21st century.
"The President’s first proposal under this authority would be to create a unified department focused on economic growth and job creation, so that we can be more effective at helping businesses do what they do best –- create jobs.
"For the entrepreneurs and small business owners that SBA and other agencies serve, this is very good news. A more integrated approach would ensure that small businesses would have access to all of the federal government’s programs in a more seamless, coordinated, and coherent way."
Susan Eckerly, Senior Vice President of Federal Public Policy, National Federation of Independent Business
"Despite the President's lip service to small businesses in announcing his plan, it is unlikely to help job creators in any meaningful way. If the President really wants to help small businesses succeed, he can start by shrinking the agencies most responsible for standing in the way of their growth, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Labor. Unfortunately, the President has consistently opposed meaningful regulatory reform, and we are skeptical that his plan to shrink the government will help tear down regulatory obstacles his agencies continue to impose.”
Steve Caldeira, President and CEO, International Franchise Association
"Today's announcement by President Obama to elevate SBA Administrator Karen Mills to a Cabinet-level position serves as a stamp of approval for her diligent and proven work to improve small business access to credit during a still very-challenging economic and public policy environment. Small business access to credit is the number one challenge facing prospective and existing franchisees and any steps that will enhance small business access to credit will help to boost our economy and create the jobs our country so desperately needs.
"While details of the proposed changes to the SBA and other government agencies are still unclear, under the leadership of Administrator Mills, the SBA has been a lifeline to the franchise community that has had difficulty acquiring loans in the commercial lending market during the economic downturn, increasing lending to record levels and reducing lender paperwork for SBA loans. With franchise small businesses poised for modest growth of 2.0 percent in 2012, access to capital, particularly through the SBA's 7(a) lending program, will be critical to achieving our forecasted growth."
"As part of any proposed reorganization, it would be essential that SBA loan programs remain intact and at their current funding levels, to ensure franchise small businesses can continue to access capital through these successful loan programs."
Todd McCracken, President and CEO, National Small Business Association
"While NSBA is firmly committed to reducing the deficit, there simply aren't enough details available yet to know if this will be a net win or loss for small business.
"On the one hand, reorganizing federal agencies to create a 'one-stop-shop' for America's small businesses could streamline processes and make accessing information and assistance much easier. On the other hand, such a reorganization could minimize the emphasis placed on small business by the federal government and lead to an even greater imbalance toward promoting the interests of large businesses over those of small business.
"Any proposal to consolidate agencies must ensure that SBA, Ex-Im Bank, OPIC, USTR and USTDA remain thriving vehicles for the U.S. to promote entrepreneurship. Anything short of that would be a disservice to America's small businesses and the U.S. economy."
Lloyd Chapman, President, American Small Business League
"I've been predicting this for years. It has nothing to do with shrinking government but has everything to do with eliminating contracting programs for small businesses. When was last time you heard of a U.S. President holding a press conference to talk about saving $3 billion over a decade? $3 billion is nothing compared to what the Pentagon will spend this year alone. It's an amount not even worth mentioning and definitely not worth dismantling the only agency to assist America's 28 million small businesses."