Last night the Washington Post reported that Karen Mills would be stepping down as head of the Small Business Administration. During her tenure at the SBA, Mills oversaw $106 billion in loans to more than 193,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs. That included $30.5 billion in loan guarantees in 2011 and $30.25 billion in 2012.
“Because of Karen’s hard work and dedication, our small businesses are better positioned to create jobs and our entire economy is stronger,” said President Obama.
Although conditions are better now for small business owners than they were just a few short years ago, I don’t think anyone could argue that things are all peaches and cream for America’s Main Street business owner. In fact a new Gallup/Wells Fargo survey conducted in January suggests that 30 percent of those surveyed are afraid they might be out of business by the end of the year.
Nevertheless, all isn’t doom and gloom. “Looking forward, U.S. small business now expects to add more net jobs than they plan to eliminate over the next 12 months, with owners’ net hiring intentions at +5 in January. This is up from -4 in November, but still below the +10 of July and the +14 of a year ago,” says Gallup.
It’s pretty apparent that small business is cautious and less optimistic than they were a short year ago. It’s hard to wonder why with all the political gamesmanship taking place in Washington these days as partisan demagogues refuse to put party differences aside and act in the interest of the country. As President Obama and Congress contemplate Mills’s replacement, I hope they will consider candidates that understand that access to capital is one of the biggest challenges facing small business owners and focus their search on those in the best position to help Main Street find the capital it needs to grow, thrive, create jobs, and fuel the economy in their local communities—regardless of party affiliation.