WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Maria Contreras-Sweet, the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), today issued the following statement prior to her testimony before the House Small Business Committee:
"Since joining SBA my top priority has been to create conditions to support America's small business and entrepreneur community. Each and every day, the dedicated men and women of SBA are focused on achieving meaningful results on behalf of the small businesses that create the majority of new jobs and drive our economy forward.
"I am proud that Fiscal Year 2015 was one of the most successful years in SBA's history. It was a record year in small business lending, a record year in investment, and a record year in contracting. SBA reached historic levels for small business lending under our flagship 7(a) program. We reached $23.5 billion dollars in gross approvals, a 22 percent increase in the number of loan approvals, and a 23 percent increase in the dollar value of those loans, compared to FY14.
"It's not just the overall numbers that were up. We were able to target businesses with the greatest difficulty accessing capital. The dollar value of our 7(a) loans was up 22 percent to women, 23 percent to minorities and 103 percent to veterans. SBA also shattered its record for small business investment under our SBIC program. We grew our portfolio by 10 percent to a record $25 billion. For FY16 we continue to project both the SBIC and 7(a) programs along with the 504 program to operate at a zero taxpayer subsidy.
"While we have made record progress in program areas, there are challenges and areas that need improvement. I agree with many of GAO's recommendations, which is why we are simultaneously modernizing operations and processes to support the transforming small business economy.
"SBA recently hired a new Chief Digital Officer from the private sector and is recruiting other top IT talent. This team will guide a major upgrade of our IT systems and modernize our infrastructure in order to give SBA's systems greater capacity, reliability, and security. This modernization complements the agency's launch of SBAOne, an online origination platform providing lenders with automated access to SBA's guarantee, and LINC, an online matchmaking tool that has already connected 20,000 small businesses with lenders.
"Like any great agency, it is the skilled workforce that moves it forward. We're currently crafting a comprehensive workforce plan, which will include both a skills gap assessment and gap closure plan. We hired SBA's first ever Chief Learning Officer to help existing staff acquire new skills to advance their careers and fill critical agency needs.
"In my 20 months on the job, SBA has played a critical role in supporting our thriving small business community and continuing to build on our record breaking numbers. We will continue to work closely with our community resource partners: SBDCs, SCORE, Women's Business Centers, and the Veteran's Business Outreach Centers to continue building our legacy of success stories in all communities across the nation. I appreciate all the support Congress has provided to make the reforms necessary so that SBA can continue to deliver first-rate services to the small businesses we are privileged to serve every day."
ABOUT THE U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA)
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. www.sba.gov
Release Number: 16-01
SOURCE U.S. Small Business Administration