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Marie C. Johns Headshot

Inspiring the Next Generation of America's Entrepreneurs

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The SBA is working hard to make sure small business owners and entrepreneurs have the access to capital they need to start and grow their businesses. This resulted in a record lending year in 2011, where we supported $30 billion in loans to over 60,000 small businesses. And while we've made great progress, we know there is more work to be done. One area we are focused on is opening the doors of entrepreneurship to more communities and demographics.

To make this possible, we're focused on underrepresented communities and young people, streamlining loan products and simplifying access points to create more opportunities to succeed. One way to do this is to link young people to the resources they need to make their dreams of starting a business a reality. Last year, the Young Entrepreneurs Series provided opportunities to connect young people to the tools they need to create jobs for themselves and their communities.

Working in conjunction with the White House, I met incredibly ambitious young people from all over the country who took a risk and took control of their futures. From Iowa to Charlotte, San Diego to Oklahoma, we heard about the challenges facing young people and worked to connect them to our programs and resources. This includes our resource partners like SCORE, our Small Business Development Centers, and Women's Business Development Centers, a network of over 14,000 counselors that offer mentoring, coaching and support for every stage of business growth.

Building on that effort, we hosted a summit on entrepreneurship at the White House this spring to find ways to increase entrepreneurship opportunities on Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) campuses in underserved communities.

SBA also launched the Start Young Initiative with the Department of Labor's Employment Training Administration. The pilot program kicked off in April of this year in Philadelphia, Milwaukee and New York City, with the goal of providing young people in Job Corps with specialized training and increased awareness of the opportunities and resources available to help them start their own businesses. And based on the success of the program, SBA, in conjunction with DOL is pleased to announce the expansion of this program to 10 other sites around the country later on this year.

And we've launched an iPhone app that helps young people find SBA-affiliated advisers nearby and get free, personal, one-on-one help with starting and growing their business on-the-go.

President Obama often talks about laying a foundation for an economy built to last--one that restores security for middle class families and empowers the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. Here at the SBA, and across the administration, we are committed to ensuring young Americans have the access and opportunity they need to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build our competitors and win the future for generations to come.