At the North Channel Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon this month, the featured speaker was Tim Jeffcoat, Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration in Houston.
Jeffcoat gave the audience an entertaining and informative look at the programs and services offered by the SBA to any small business. He defined small businesses as any manufacturing or processing business that has less than 1500 employees. Examples were refineries, aircraft and airline companies, oil transportation, and delivery services.
He also defined small business as any service firm doing up to $38.5 Million is business. Thus a large number of Houston businesses would qualify for SBA services.
These include access to Counseling, Federal Contracting, Capital, and support during crisis situations.
Jeffcoat noted that of all new businesses, 63% qualify as small businesses.
He sees SBA as “Helping Americans achieve the Dream of Small Business.”
Jeffcoat went on to elaborate on each of the services offered by his agency. For Counseling, there are three types: Small Business Development Centers, often in conjunction with a college or university, of which he said there are 15 locations in the Houston region; SCORE, a counseling service using retire executives in various fields, of which there are 15 chapters available in the region; and a Women’s Business Center.
Federal Contracting is the next category of help from SBA. He said that most federal agencies have a goal of using small businesses, and the SBA will help make contacts and guide proposals and bids.
Another federal program is known as 8(a) with set-asides for owners that are socially and economically disadvantaged. There are five offices in the U.S. specializing in this type of help, and one is in the Houston region. Altogether, they have contracted for hundreds of millions of dollars of work.
SBA is best known for securing loans for small businesses, Jeffcoat said, including disaster loans such as needed after Hurricane Harvey. They also have a research and technology grant progam, with 3 steps to qualify for grant money from $150,000 to over a million dollars, and then commercialization of the research.
Jeffcoat urged the audience to go to the website sba.gov for more information, or to contact his office for help.