OFN Board Member Testifies at Senate Small Business Committee Hearing

Dafina Williams

On April 3, the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee held a hearing entitled “Reauthorization of the SBA’s Access to Capital Programs” as part of the Committee’s efforts to reauthorize the Small Business Act.

The hearing featured two panels: The first panel featured testimony from William Manger, Associate Administrator of the SBA Office of Capital Access. The second panel featured practitioners with extensive knowledge of the SBA’s Capital Access Programs, including testimony from OFN Board Member and Executive Vice President of CDC Small Business Finance, Robert Villarreal. Robert’s testimony focused on the critical role of the SBA’s Community Advantage (CA) program in providing access to capital for underserved small businesses. Joining Robert on the panel were representatives from Immito, Evergreen Business Capital, and Association for Enterprise Opportunity.

Video of the hearing in its entirety can be found here.

Seven Members of the Senate Small Business Committee attended the hearing: Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. James Risch (R-ID), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).

While most of the Committee’s questions were directed at Mr. Manger, several Senators highlighted the importance of access to capital for women- and minority-owned businesses and businesses in rural communities:

  • Sen. Cardin (D-MD) asked how the SBA could better target its programs to underserved communities and indicated concern about the recent changes made by the SBA to the Community Advantage program, including the moratorium on new lenders.
  • Sen. Rubio (R-FL) also asked about the recent changes to the Community Advantage program and if the SBA intended to make the program permanent.
  • Sen. Cantwell (D-WA) inquired about ways the SBA can provide greater access to capital to women-owned businesses.
  • Sen. Hawley (R-MO) highlighted the work of OFN member Justine PETERSEN, a Missouri-based CDFI and SBA Microloan intermediary in the country, and the challenges of lending in rural communities.
  • Sen. Rosen (D-NV) emphasized the need for greater efforts to reach minority-owned businesses and asked if the Community Advantage pilot program should be made permanent.

The Senate Small Business Committee will host two additional hearings in May on other SBA programs as part of the reauthorization of the Small Business Act.

OFN will continue to monitor the hearings and advocate for increased access to federal resources for mission-driven small business lenders. For more information on OFN’s small business advocacy, contact Dafina Williams, VP of Public Policy, at 202.868.6922 or dwilliams@ofn.org.

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