Small businesses in every part of the country have struggled mightily during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have survived only due to unprecedented assistance from the federal government deployed through the Small Business Administration (SBA). With responsibility for distributing roughly a trillion dollars in relief, the SBA’s effort has been historic and admirable.
The experience amplified strengths, yet also revealed important areas where the agency is in need of enhanced capabilities. To address this opportunity, learn from the crisis experience, and help strengthen the agency’s role in serving small and young companies, the Bipartisan Policy Center announced today the launch of the Task Force on the Future of SBA.
Through public convenings, private deliberations, and extensive consultation with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and subject-matter experts, the task force will develop evidence-based recommendations for Congress and the Biden administration. In particular, the task force will work to inform bipartisan SBA reauthorization in the near future.
“The health and economic crises of the past 18 months have demonstrated just how vital small enterprises and new companies are to the U.S. social fabric,” said BPC President Jason Grumet. “The Small Business Administration is central to maintaining that fabric. This task force seeks to strengthen that capacity and therefore support American business owners, workers, and their communities.”
“I am proud to have served as the 24th administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and to have brought the agency into the digital age. The COVID-19 pandemic put an unprecedented burden on owners, entrepreneurs, and the SBA itself in ways totally unanticipated. The good news is that the agency rose to the occasion,” said BPC Board Member Maria Contreras-Sweet. “But the pandemic also exposed serious disparities on the small business landscape that need to be addressed by the SBA through circumspect awareness, program refinements, and even more advanced technology. I look forward to working with this task force and supporting their efforts to help the agency enhance its capacity to serve our small and medium enterprises, which create two-thirds of our nation’s new private sector jobs.”
“American small businesses are constantly evolving to meet challenges and take advantage of new opportunities,” said BPC Board Member and former Senator and Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Olympia Snowe. “The government agency dedicated to supporting them must do the same and adapt its systems and programs to support that evolution. I’m confident that this task force will successfully develop ideas and recommendations to enable the SBA to do that.”
The co-chairs of the Task Force on the Future of SBA are:
- Pradeep Belur, former chief operating officer and chief of staff at the SBA
- Ann Marie Mehlum, former associate administrator for capital access at the SBA
“The work of assisting small businesses is never finished—the SBA has continually sought to respond to new needs and reach more types of small companies,” Mehlum said. “The members of this task force, which I’m delighted to help chair, are committed to working with the agency and Congress to improve the ways in which that work is carried out.”
“The SBA is at a crucial moment: its laudable performance during the COVID crisis has thrust upon the agency new expectations and new responsibilities,” Belur said. “To fulfill those, SBA needs not only enhanced capacity but also modernization to enable it to execute effectively. I’m honored to help chair this task force and pursue measures that will support the agency and help the heart of America’s economy.”
In addition to Mehlum and Belur, members of the task force are:
- Jessica Johnson-Cope, president, Johnson Security Bureau; co-chair, 10,000 Small Businesses Voices National Leadership Council
- Chris Ledesma, senior vice president for SBA lending, Wells Fargo
- Ryan Metcalf, head of U.S. public policy and global social impact, Funding Circle
- Jody Milanese, vice president of government affairs, National Small Business Association
- Chris Pilkerton, chief legal and regulatory strategy officer, Accion Opportunity Fund
- Tom Pretty, head of SBA lending, TD Bank
- Awesta Sarkash, government affairs director, Small Business Majority
- Chris Upperman, governance partnerships team lead and manager, Facebook
- Michele Vervlied, managing director of government guaranteed lending, Customers Bank
- Robert Villarreal, chief external affairs officer, Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Finance
- Chris Wheat, co-president, JPMorgan Chase Institute
- Dafina Williams, senior vice president, Opportunity Finance Network
BPC is grateful to our supporters for making the task force possible: Wells Fargo, the Kauffman Foundation, Funding Circle, Biz2Credit, and Customers Bank.