GUEST COMMENTARY: Express Program lends hand to veteran-owned businesses


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Our nation’s veterans have served our country proudly and bravely. They are true American heroes, and we must make sure that we’re doing everything possible to support them, once they re-enter civilian life.

That’s why starting Jan. 1, 2014 and for the rest of the fiscal year, the U.S. Small Business Administration has set the borrower upfront guaranty fee to zero, for all veteran loans approved during that timeframe under the SBA Express program, which supports loans of up to $350,000. That’s right, the guaranty fee is zero.

This program, called SBA’s Veterans Advantage, is available to small businesses owned and controlled by veterans; active-duty military participating in the Transition Assistance Program; reservists; National Guard members; or their spouses or the widowed spouses of service members or veterans, who died during service or as a result of service-related disabilities.

Our research shows that of all SBA loans that go to veteran-owned businesses, 73 percent are $350,000 and below.

The SBA Express Loan Program, which supports loans up to $350,000, is SBA’s most popular loan delivery method, with nearly 60 percent of all 7(a) loans over the past decade being approved through the program. Since the program’s inception, it has also been one of the most popular delivery methods for getting capital into the hands of veteran-owned businesses.

SBA is dedicated to helping veterans, providing them access to business counseling and training, business development opportunities through government contracts and capital. In FY 2013, SBA supported $1.86 billion in loans for 3,094 veteran-owned small businesses.

And since 2009, the dollar amount of SBA lending support to veteran-owned firms has nearly doubled.

We strive to support veterans and members of the military in as many ways as possible. That’s why SBA also supports a direct working capital loan program, for small businesses with an essential employee, who is a military reservist, called to active duty.

The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster loans provide funds, to help cover operating expense, while the essential employee is away on active duty. This way, our brave men and women in uniform, don’t have to choose between serving their country or growing their communities.

Our nation’s veterans are highly-skilled and highly-trained leaders in their communities, and so it makes sense that after serving their country, veterans would become entrepreneurs and small business owners. Our job at the SBA is to make sure that these veterans and their families have the tools and capital they need to start and grow a business. As Regional Administrator, I am proud that the SBA fully supports our veteran entrepreneurs.

We look forward to continuing to reach out to them through our 68 field offices across the country, including the Alaska District Office. Contact them at (907) 271-4002 or the Veteran Business Outreach Center at (206) 324-4330.

Calvin Goings is the Small Business Administration Regional Administrator for Alaska.

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