All Articles Tagged "Karen Mills"

Black Business Owners, Civil Rights Groups Support Marie Johns For Next Head Of The Small Business Association

April 12th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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Marie_JohnsNow that Karen Mills is stepping down as chief administrator of the Small Business Association (SBA), there’s an opening at the top of this important government agency. According to the Trice Edney News Wire (via the Florida Courier), “at least 80 Black business and civil rights organizations, representing nearly 30 million small businesses” sent a letter to the the Presidential Personnel Office advocating for the appointment of Marie Johns to the position.

Johns is currently deputy administrator of the agency, managing the agency and working on programs and policies for the agency. She was appointed to her position in June 2010 and, according to her bio, the “SBA had a record year in 2011, supporting more than $30 billion in lending to more than 60,000 small businesses across the country. That is the most capital going to small businesses in the history of the SBA.”

“Hope for the selection of Johns is said to be based on her established record of work for inclusion of Black and other minority-owned businesses, which have been hit hardest during the economic downturn,” writes Trice Edney. The wire says the National Bankers Association, the National Association for Black Veterans, and the National Urban League are among the organizations that signed on to the letter.

Mills will remain in her post until a successor is named. The SBA took on renewed importance during the Obama administration, re-gaining Cabinet-level status and stepping in to help small businesses in the wake of the Great Recession. According to USA Today, $106 billion has been lent to 193,000 small businesses since Mills became head of the agency. Click that link to read a Q&A with Mills and learn more about the agency.

Small Business Administration Chief Stepping Down

February 12th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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Image: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Image: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Karen Mills, who has been head of the Small Business Administration since 2009, is stepping down from her post.

We’ve covered the work of the SBA a number of times in the past few months, including here and here. The Huffington Post has a good, succinct overview of what the agency does:

The SBA arranges loans, loan guarantees and other assistance to small businesses. Most recently, the SBA stepped in to assist businesses hurt by Superstorm Sandy, approving more than $1.1 billion in disaster loans to residents and businesses in states affected by the storm.

Politico says Mills will be staying put until a new person is appointed to the spot, which is Cabinet-level. President Obama gives Mills credit for helping with passage of the Small Business Act and playing “a leading role in my administration’s efforts to support start-ups and entrepreneurs.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis are among the other administration members who are stepping down for Obama’s second term.

For Black Businesses, Thinking Beyond Small Business Saturday

November 24th, 2012 - By Tonya Garcia
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President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia shopping at an Arlington bookstore today. Rex Features via AP Images

With the nation’s sentiment turning somewhat sour about Black Friday (many complained that store openings on Thanksgiving night intruded on the family gatherings for both shoppers and workers) the time was right this year for Small Business Saturday. Add to that the focus on small businesses — supporting them was a big talking point during the presidential election — and you have buzz for the day unlike any that’s likely been experienced in the past.

New York’s Mayor Bloomberg announced today that a matching grant program worth $5.5 million will be available for small businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy. A total of more than $45 million in loans and other financial assistance will also help.

President Barack Obama and the rest of the White House has been crowing about Small Business Saturday on Twitter today. The President and the First Daughters Sasha and Malia were out shopping today at a local Arlington bookstore (he bought 15 children’s books, according to Reuters) to support the day.

And American Express — which founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 — and Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills were on the Today show yesterday talking up the opportunity to shop at local businesses. (Video below.)

Widely reported numbers say that small businesses created two out of three jobs in this country over the past 20 years. American Express founded the day three years ago and says more than 100 million people came out last year.

For black businesses, Small Business Saturday could be just the thing to jump start businesses. Pointing out the many difficulty that black retailers have — from the troubles with financing, lack of a strong network, or old-fashioned racism — The Huffington Post’s Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson talks with entrepreneurs who are trying to capitalize on the special day and all of the digital avenues available to small business owners nowadays.

“It drives traffic both to our Internet business and to our brick-and-mortar business,” Jamyla Bennu, owner of Baltimore’s Oyin Handmade, told the website.

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the black community (“the number of black-owned businesses in the U.S. increasing by 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007,” HuffPo quotes the Census Bureau’s latest Survey of Business Owners), but the means to get businesses off the ground or stay afloat aren’t always there.

The Grio provides a list of small black-owned businesses that you can try out for Small Business Saturday and beyond. Did you shop at a black-owned business today?

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SBA Head Lay Out The Ways President Obama Has Helped Small Businesses

September 6th, 2012 - By Tonya Garcia
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Image: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Everyone is talking about Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC last night (including its length), tossing in some chatter about Massachusetts Senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren and a little extra for women’s rights advocate Sandra Fluke. Overlooked by many were the brief remarks from the top administrator for the Small Business Administration, Karen Mills.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re familiar with the SBA and all of the information it provides for those launching a new company. (If you’re not, check it out here.) President Obama has been accused by the Republicans repeatedly of not only standing in the way of small business owners, but discouraging small business ownership through his policies, including the new healthcare law. The mantra of the Republican convention — “We built that” — even stems from a willful misinterpretation of a comment President Obama made with reference to small businesses. The Washington Post reports on a poll showing that the President trails Romney by a significant margin among small business owners.

Last night, Mills set the record straight.

“President Obama understands that small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” she said, noting the impact that small businesses have on our economy. Half of Americans work for or own a small business, according to Mills, and they create two-thirds of all jobs.

When President Obama took office, the economy was a mess and “credit was frozen.” He has cut taxes 18 times for small business owners, made it easier for small businesspeople to adhere to rules and regulations and shortened the time it would take for them to get paid by the federal government, she said.

“He understands that Washington doesn’t create jobs; small businesses do. Government’s role is to put the wind at their backs,” she said. You can read all of her comments and watch a clip of her speech here.

We have no doubt that the President supports small business. The fact remains, however, that minority-owned and women-owned businesses are still having a problem with funding and other resources. We’ve covered that topic here, and went into detail about one alternative, microloans, here. Maybe it’s an issue he’ll address further in his second term.

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