Lansing Area Chamber members learn what the Small Business Administration can do for them
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (October 11, 2017) – Carole Harris is the Lead/Supervisory Economic Development Specialist for the Illinois District Office of the Small Business Administration. Her presentation—Programs, Services, and Partners to Help Your Business Succeed—served as an introduction to the U.S. Small Business Administration for the approximately 50 Lansing Area Chamber members attending the informational lunch this past week.
“This is the kind of thing your Chamber can do for you—give you access to resources to help your business succeed,” said Amy Todd, Executive Director. “That’s what we’re here for.”
Todd invited the Small Business Administration to share their three main program areas—Counseling, Capital, and Contracting—and Harris described each one. Counseling, she explained, includes workshops, mentoring, analysis tools, access to research, and Small Business Development Centers. The Center that serves Lansing is the Illinois Small Business Development Center/Women’s Business Development Center at Governors State University.
Capital is a common concern for small business owners, as most rely on lenders to open or to finance capital improvements. Harris explained that the SBA is not a direct source of capital, as they do not loan money directly to businesses. However, SBA has a broad network of options they can help businesses access, including their 7(A) Loan Program, the 504 Loan Program, and a Microloan Program. They can also help businesses find targeted grants, such as grants for women-owned businesses, or minority-owned businesses, or businesses that hire veterans, or businesses meeting a specific need.
The third program area, Contracts, is SBA’s focus on helping small businesses overcome market barriers and win federal contracts. Harris said the Federal Government is the largest buyer in the world, buying nearly $100 billion dollars’ worth of goods and services from small businesses each year.
Harris’ presentation was about 45 minutes, and she remained afterward to answer questions from the luncheon attenders. She also left her contact information and encouraged people to ask for additional information and assistance:
SBA Illinois District Office
500 W. Madison Street
Chicago, IL 60661