Monday, June 01, 2009

Verbatim: Influencers on Sotomayor, Small-Biz Lending, Broadband, New Native American Leadership, National Cybersecurity, Net Neutrality

As often as possible, GoodBiz113 presents diverse perspectives on small business and entrepreneurship from those who help shape small-business policies and practices, as well as those who report on small-biz-related developments. Here's what some folks said last week...

"...Generally speaking, Sotomayor is also considered pretty moderate, at least when it comes to other issues businesses care about, such as limiting class action lawsuits and pre-empting state laws with federal laws, several attorneys said. She has ruled for investors and companies in many different types of cases..." -- senior writer Jennifer Liberto, comparing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor [pictured] to outgoing Justice David Souter. [May 26, "Sotomayor: Important Business Awaits,"]

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"In the current financial climate, it’s especially critical for small firms to know which banks and financial institutions have been the most likely to make small and microbusiness loans." -- SBA Office of Advocacy economist Victoria Williams, upon release of a study that ranks banks on small-business lending and provides hints about current financial trends.

According to the latest edition of the Office of Advocacy’s annual study of lending to small firms, Williams and co-author Charles Ou, a senior economist, found that the growth of small and microbusiness lending remained positive during the first half of 2008, although the expansion was slower than in the previous year. Their new report, "Small Business and Micro Business Lending in the United States for Data Years 2007-2008," gives a detailed account of small-business lending overall, plus state-by-state totals and totals for individual lenders. The full study, including expanded state-by-state tables, is available online at:

The U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, the "small-business watchdog" of the federal government, examines the role and status of small business in the economy and independently represents the views of small business to federal agencies, Congress, and the President. It is the source for small-business statistics presented in user-friendly formats, and funds research into small-business issues. [May 26, SBA Office of Advocacy]

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"Ensuring that every American has access to broadband services is an important policy goal for the new Administration. With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress and the Administration directed a number of federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission [FCC], to work toward this goal...

"Because small businesses are the heart of the American economy, they are critical to driving an economic recovery. However, access to modern technologies, including broadband, is critical to allow small businesses to grow. At the same time, small broadband providers will supply the competition and innovation necessary to expand advanced telecommunications services to all Americans. The Office of Advocacy will continue to play a leading role in ensuring that the needs of all small businesses are represented in the federal government throughout this process." -- Shawne McGibbon, acting chief counsel for SBA's Office of Advocacy, reporting that the FCC has launched a 13-month effort to develop a national broadband strategy to be presented to Congress by Feb. 17, 2010 [May 27, "Got Broadband? A National Broadband Strategy for Small Business," The Small Business Advocate]

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“The SBA’s plan to offer floor-plan loans to America’s dealerships will help small businesses stay open in this uncertain economy... These loans will enable dealerships to maintain their inventory and save jobs. The provisions that the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee secured in the Recovery Act will also make floor-plan financing more affordable by eliminating borrower fees on the loans. This is another critical step toward increasing access to capital for America’s small businesses.” -- Sens. Mary Landrieu [D-La.] and Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], chair and ranking member, respectively, of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, commenting on the SBA's announcement that the agency will waive its floor-plan lending prohibition that is currently part of the 7[a] loan guarantee program.

The policy change will allow the SBA to guarantee up to 75 percent of floor-plan loans to dealerships to purchase cars, RVs, manufactured homes, boats and motorcycles. Floor-plan loans will be available for a minimum of $500,000 up to the $2 million allowable under the 7[a] program, and have a maximum repayment term of five years.

Floor-plan financing is a line of credit that allows dealers to borrow against their inventory, and then repay that debt as they sell their inventory or borrow against the line of credit again to add new inventory. Under the new program, the SBA will provide loan guarantees for lines of credit through its 7[a] program. These loans will be made through SBA lenders only for titled inventory. The pilot program will begin July 1 and will be available through Sept. 30, 2010, at which time the SBA will make the determination of whether or not to extend the program. [May 28, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship]

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“I am pleased to have Clara Pratte joining our team at the SBA in this vital post... Clara’s background and experience will be an asset as we strengthen our efforts at the SBA to support the growth and development of small businesses and the economic opportunities they provide for Native Americans.” -- SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills announcing the appointment of Clara Pratte as national director for the agency’s Office of Native American Affairs.

As national director, Pratte will help to ensure that American Indians, Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians seeking to create, develop and expand small businesses have full access to the necessary tools available through the SBA’s entrepreneurial development, lending and procurement programs. [May 29, U.S. Small Business Administration]

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"[The President] committed to protect the Internet from those who would sacrifice the openness and freedom of the Internet for their own parochial interests when he said he 'remained firmly committed to net neutrality'... This makes sense in an announcement on the nation’s cyber infrastructure, because having Internet traffic content neutral is what everyone -- from the small-business owners to venture capitalists Obama mentioned in his speech -- rely on daily to do their jobs.” -- Ed Black, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, after President Barack Obama announced that he will soon name a national cybersecurity coordinator to protect America's communications and information infrastructure, and that the government is going to start treating the nation's digital infrastructure, broadband networks and computers as strategic national assets that should be "open and free." [May 29, "Obama Committed to Network Neutrality," Broadcasting & Cable]

SOURCES: Broadcasting & Cable,, The Small Business Advocate, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Small Business Administration, The White House [photo]

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