Bipartisanship Brings Loan Program Expansion For Small Businesses

President Donald J. Trump recently signed the bipartisan, bicameral Small Business 7(a) Lending Oversight Reform Act into law. Led by House Small Business Committee Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Jim Risch (R-ID), and House Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY); the Reform Act improves access to capital for small business owners by ensuring appropriate oversight of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) flagship 7(a) loan program. The bill passed both committees unanimously, and passed the House and Senate without objection before going to the President’s desk for his signature.

The 7(a) loan program was created to help entrepreneurs gain access to credit in order to start and grow their businesses when they are unable to qualify for a conventional loan. It can be a “make or break” cash infusion that gets small businesses doing what they do best, creating jobs in their community and supporting the American economy. Millions of American entrepreneurs use and repay billions of dollars in 7(a) loans each year.

The Small Business 7(a) Lending Oversight Reform Act updates the “credit elsewhere” test, which is the entry point to the program; increases oversight of the program and transparency to Congress, and provides flexibility for SBA’s Administrator to increase the program’s authorization cap in an emergency. It ensures SBA has the tools it needs, provides lenders with needed clarity, and makes sure entrepreneurs and small business owners have access to funds they would otherwise not be able to obtain.

Whether it is a new military contractor in Virginia Beach, or a family owned craft brewer in Erie, small businesses face the common challenge of finding affordable financing. An improved 7(a) program ensures more businesses can access capital to grow, invest in their operations and, ultimately, create jobs.

This bill was widely supported in the small business community, including by the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders (NAGGL), the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), the American Bankers Association (ABA), the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU), the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA), the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Check out our online Lender Match tool to find an SBA-approved lender to help you through the process. I also encourage you to visit your local SBA office or a “Powered by SBA” partner organization for help putting together the business plan you’ll need to qualify for an SBA-backed loan.

Michelle Christian is the SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator.

Encouraging Entrepreneurship for Military Spouses

Each May we memorialize the men and women who sacrifice their lives defending our freedom. Often forgotten are the military spouses, who give their all to maintain households and raise children. On May 23, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed the first proclamation declaring Military Spouse Day.

Now celebrated the Friday before Mother’s Day, National Spouse Day is a day to recognize these heroes of the armed services— the husbands and wives of our servicemen and women. Military families make incredible sacrifices, which includes leaving their careers and career development opportunities due to frequent relocations in support of military commitments.

The unemployment rate among military spouses is 23 percent, and considering 85 percent say they want to or need to work, that is unacceptable. When the average household relies on two incomes, it should come as no surprise military families find themselves in similar need.

I am encouraged by employers who are increasingly, looking for ways to attract military spouses through such technology, as allowing them to work remotely. I would like to point out another option supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration— Entrepreneurship: military spouses running their own businesses can be empowering, liberating, and highly adaptable to a mobile lifestyle.

As SBA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, I am committed to helping more people have the tools and skills they need to be entrepreneurs. We, and our partners have online and community-based resources across the country offering access to capital, training, and business opportunities. We even have special outreach specifically geared to military spouses through programs on military installations.

These programs are available through your local SBA District Offices and our resource partners. Visit to earn more about local resources (, and more opportunities from SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development (

As we look ahead, the SBA is working with the Department of Labor and Department of Defense to reduce barriers to business ownership and cross-state credentialing for military spouses. For example, if someone has a real estate license or a hairstylist’s license in one state, it should be easier to transition those credentials to another state.

Today, there are more than a million military spouses— 700,000 active duty and 400,000 reserve/guard. Each has a broad diversity of talents and experiences the SBA can help build into careers. We must help military spouses succeed and feel empowered, because they sacrifice for all of us. After all, each and every small business contributes to America’s economic prosperity, which further strengthens this great nation our military is working to defend.