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Modernization Through Reauthorization: Bringing the SBA into the 21st Century

Washington, DC – As the Small Business Administration (SBA) approaches its 70th anniversary, with more than 20 years since the agency was last reauthorized by Congress, the Bipartisan Policy Center and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices release a new policy blueprint to modernize SBA: Small Agency, Big Mandate: A Bipartisan Roadmap to Modernizing the SBA. The report offers policy recommendations to create an SBA that works for today’s small businesses.  

The tremendous value of the SBA was underscored during the pandemic, when its emergency relief programs kept millions of small businesses across the country afloat. But that experience, coupled with the explosion of new businesses over the past three years, has only underscored the urgent need for the agency to modernize.  

The agency now faces a changed small business landscape. New business creation has exploded. Longstanding challenges facing small businesses—such as gaps in access to capital—were exacerbated and are growing more acute. Small businesses face increased competition for workers as many left the workforce or turned to bigger companies able to offer more lucrative pay and benefits. 

Reauthorization should enable Congress, SBA, and small business owners to work together and with stakeholders to enhance the agency’s strengths and better reflect the way business is done today.   

The report outlines eight key principles to guide modernization of SBA’s three core functions: capital, contracting, and counseling. The report’s recommendations for modernization would address major challenges facing SBA and small business owners: 

  1. Improve access to capital and financing gaps for small business owners, which are especially pronounced among business owners of color, women, veterans, and those in rural areas. 
  2. Increase participation for small businesses in government contracting, including simplifying certification and streamlining contracting opportunities.  
  3. Modernize entrepreneurial development and counseling options to support 21st century small business. This includes updating programs so they are useful, leveraging technology, and strategically marketing so that businesses are aware of and can take advantage of offerings.   

“Reauthorization of SBA is crucial to fulfilling Congress’ oversight and accountability responsibilities,” said Dane Stangler, BPC director of strategic initiatives. “SBA is tasked with a critical mission, which it has carried out well. But it needs Congress’ help to do more. Regular reauthorization of the agency would make certain that it’s adapting to an evolving economic landscape and needs of small business owners.” 

“It’s time for Congress to finally supply the SBA with the necessary tools and infrastructure to meet the needs of today’s small businesses,”said Joe Wall, national director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices. ”American prosperity and competitiveness, central to the agency’s original mission, are strengthened when everyone is enabled to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.”  

SBA reauthorization is feasible because support for small businesses and entrepreneurs has always been a shared political priority. Dozens of bipartisan bills introduced in the last Congress provide a strong foundation for a concerted effort at modernization. BPC and 10,000 Small Businesses Voices look forward to working with Congress, SBA, small business owners, and other stakeholders on this important mission. 

Read the report 

Dane Stangler and Joe Wall are available for comment.  

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