The SBA and you continued
in need of inventory, furniture or
More information is available at
SBA administrator Karen Mills was the featured speaker during National Small Business Week 2009.
The SBA offers help with every
aspect of running a business—from writing a business plan to an exit strategy.
The counseling programs include:
• SCORE (Service Corps of Retired
Executives), an SBA partner dedicated to
entrepreneur education and supporting
small businesses. SCORE chapters across
the country assist with small-business
counseling and training.
• Women’s Business Centers
(WBCs), which help women start and
grow small businesses. These centers are
located across the country.
The SBA also offers assistance to
a variety of specialized entrepreneurs,
including veterans, Native Americans,
those over 50 and young entrepreneurs.
More information is available at
ness and failing for tens of thousands of businesses that couldn’t get credit.
So those stories from people who come
up to you and say, “You saved my business.
I wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t come up
with that loan 7(a) guarantee,” those make
The federal government is the
world’s largest purchaser of supplies and
goods. The SBA supports and helps small
businesses to bid on federal contracts
through these programs:
• HUBZone, which is designed to
promote economic development in
distressed areas by providing access
to contracting opportunities
8(a) Business Development
Program, which helps socially and eco-
nomically disadvantaged firms compete
for federal contracts
opportunities for more information.—SEP
other tough economic times. I know when
they need working capital. I know when
they need a bank loan to grow. I know how
important it is to have a business plan and
advice. I can understand what is going on
out there in that community. My great joy
now, although I loved running all those
businesses, is that I can really have a substantial impact with this agency and our
fabulous resources on small businesses
across the country. We have a bone structure of more than 5,000 affiliated lenders
and 14,000 counselors that allows us to
reach [not only] underserved communities,
but small businesses all across the country.
So, I have the best job.
CC | What is your forecast for economic
recovery as far as small businesses are
KM | We’ve made enormous progress from
a year ago, when we were in a frozen situation. I won’t be happy until every person who
wants one has a job. We are committed to
supporting them and giving them the tools
they need, because they really are the engines
for the country’s economy.
CC | You’ve been with the SBA for about
a year now. What’s your personal highlight?
KM | In this past year I’ve been traveling
the country and meeting with small businesses and banks. The exciting thing for me is
that we are able to use our network, our bone
structure on the ground, to really deliver a lot
of value right into the hands of small businesses. And when we have a program that
works, like we had in the Recovery Act, we’ve
made the difference between being in busi-
CC | What do you still hope to accomplish?
KM | In this next year, we have a different
task than we had a year ago. A year ago businesses were coming to us and saying, “If I
don’t get help, I can’t survive.” Now people
are saying, “I need the tools to grow. You
have to help me buy more inventories. You
have to help me get the next contract. I want
to hire some people, but I don’t have the
working capital.” So now we are working on
putting the tools in the hands of businesses
that have the potential to create some jobs.
That’s our job.
It’s something we say a lot: that our small
businesses need tools, and our job is to give
them the tools they need to grow and prosper.
That would be access to capital, counseling,
access to government contracts and, heaven
forbid, in a natural disaster it would be help
with that as well. C
24 The Costco Connection JUNE 2010
CC | You come from a family who owned
and ran a business, and your background is
steeped in small business. What is it about the
small-business world that appeals to you?
KM | I have spent my life growing small
businesses. I understand what small businesses are going through in this recession.
I’ve run a lot of small businesses through
At preSS tiMe, the connection
learned the winner of this year’s Small
Business Person of the Year award is
Waymon Armstrong, whose company,
Engineering & Computer Simulations
(ECS), is a Costco member in Florida.
The company makes simulation systems
used for training by soldiers and medics.
The award was presented during
the Small Business Administration’s
National Small Business Week, held May
23 through 25 in Washington, D.C.
ECS, which was started in 1997,
makes game-based simulation systems
and performance-assessment tools for
the military and emergency responders.
One ECS program trains emergency crews
to cooperate during a natural disaster.
Another teaches military agencies how to
launch and operate unmanned vehicles.
The company, based in Orlando,
employs 45 people and has seen a 640
percent sales growth over the past
three years.—Tim Talevich
Costco member wins SBA award