If you need evidence that America’s small businesses are getting their confidence back, consider the U.S. Small Business Administration, which earlier this summer, because of increased demand, ran short on cash for its signature loan program.
U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, who represents North Carolina’s 12th District, co-sponsored emergency legislation that got the loan program back on its feet by increasing the SBA’s lending cap from $18.75 billion to $23.5 billion. It was the second straight year that demand for small business loans pushed Congress to act.
In a recent interview with ShopTalk, Adams, a Greensboro Democrat and ranking member of the small-business subcommittee on oversight, talked about SBA funding, recent clamor to raise the minimum wage and the importance of small businesses. Her comments were edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: Applications for SBA-backed loans were up five fold some months this summer. What does that say about the state of small business?
A: It’s a reminder that the (loan) program is important to our nation’s small businesses, and my colleagues in Congress are starting to understand that. It’s the engine that keeps everything going. We’re looking in North Carolina, particularly the 12th district, at 800,000 small businesses. When we talk about the economy and trying to bring jobs back, these are the people who are going to be employing folks.
Q: Are you optimistic that Congress will set a higher lending ceiling for the next fiscal year?
A: Hopefully, it will be increased again. Oftentimes, when you get so close to the fiscal year ending and you don’t have a budget, then you get very concerned about an important program like this one and whether or not they are going to be able to continue (making loans). We certainly don’t want them to run out of money again.
Q: What are small business owners in your district telling you?
A: They need financial support. These companies are trying to get assistance from lenders that are not afraid to lend to small companies with no lending or business history.
Q: What would you say to small business owners who oppose raising the minimum wage?
A: Let me just tell you; all small businesses don’t think that way. I have talked to many who believe they are going to get a better product in terms of the individuals who are working for them. I think we are going to see a greater appreciation for establishing a wage that will be a family wage.