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Bowles promises a new SBA: Clinton's man on small business pledges change at the NMSDC confab in Orlando.

Clinton's man on small business pledges change at the NMSDC Confab in Orlando.

It's no secret that small-business owners have been dissatisfied with the ineffectiveness of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In fact, more than a few black business owners have complained that the SBA is as likely to help put you out of business as it is to encourage your company's growth.

At the annual conference of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), held in Orlando, Fla., from October 17 to 20, the new SBA administrator, Erskine B. Bowles, vowed to revitalize the agency. Flanked by NMSDC president Harriet R. Michel and Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) deputy director Gilbert Colon, Bowles promised a roomful of minority suppliers that he'll apply "not Band-Aids, but major surgery" to fix the SBA.

Bowles told the group that he envisions the SBA becoming a "learner, more efficient and more effective organization for small businesses." He announced charges in three major areas:

* Reducing paperwork. Holding up a 280 - page document, Bowles declared, "This is the current application for an SBA loan. We've reduced it to this," he added, waving a one - page two - sided form.

* Freeing up more capital. "It doesn't make sense that it's easier to borrow $5 million than to borrow $50,000," Bowles asserted.

The agency will focus on the expansion of "microloan" programs, easier access to SBA guaranteed loans and more business management information for smaller companies.

* Making small - business development a top priority of economic policymaking. Toward this end, Bowles will work within the President's National Economic Council, becoming the first SBA head to do so.

Minority suppliers have heard these promises before, then watched the SBA and the MBDA reduced to sideshows by previous presidential administrations. And political cronyism, rather than small - business experience, has elevated more than one unqualified SBA appointee to the top.

On the other hand, Bowles has already established himself as being different from past appointees. Expressing disinterest in a government career, Bowles stresses his entrepreneurial background - he was chairman and CEO of Bowles Hollowell Conner & Co., an investment banking firm based in Charlotte, N.C. - as key to what he will bring to the SBA.

"Since his appointment, Bowles has expended unprecedented efforts to find out what we think is wrong with the SBA," said NMSDC president Michel." He is serious about straightening out the SBA."
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Title Annotation:Erskine B. Bowles; United States Small Business Administration; National Minority Supplier Development Council; Orlando, Florida, October 17-20, 1993
Author:Edmond, Alfred, Jr.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jan 1, 1994
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