“Don’t be afraid to question underlying standard procedures.” This was part of the message delivered by Michael Hershey, Associate Administrator of the United States Small Business Administration during his address to the American Cable Association’s 25th Annual Summit in Washington, D.C. on March 21st. The message could apply to both federal regulators, as well as the small businesses that engage with them.
In addition to supplying loans and other forms of assistance to small businesses, Associate Administrator Hershey reminded attendees that part of SBA’s mission is to help other administrative agencies consider alternatives to rules that might be disproportionately burdensome to small companies. Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, agencies must at least consider alternatives, including different time tables, as well as waivers, for small businesses. The goal is not necessary to exempt small businesses from rules, but to see if there are ways to achieve a rule’s results, while accounting for the relative lack of resources available to small businesses.
Hershey stated that the underlying policy will usually be the same, and the outcome of the rules will be consistent. Yet the question of whether the policy makes sense when applied to small businesses should still be asked. Part of SBA’s mission is to help make that happen.
The Associate Administrator also discussed other ways SBA can assist small businesses. In addition to loans and grants, SBA also offers disaster relief. When hurricanes or other national disasters hit, SBA works with other federal agencies to provide funds to get small businesses up and running again. Furthermore, SBA has 68 regional offices around the country that provide services such as resource partnering, small business development centers, and small business mentoring programs. Hershey noted that many people are not aware of the many benefits available at local SBA offices, making the agency the government’s “best-kept secret.”
Hershey stated that SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, who was slated to address the Summit but whose schedule was disrupted by inclement weather, is undertaking an “Ignite Tour” to visit SBA regional offices. By visiting SBA centers around the country, Administrator McMahon hopes to connect with both her regional staff and the small businesses they serve outside of Washington, DC. In the process, she hopes more small businesses will become aware of, and use, more of the services the SBA can offer.
[Steve Pastorkovich is a Washington, D.C.-based consultant specializing in telecommunications, trade association operations, and public policy. LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/steve-pastorkovich-4a94412/]