President Obama, his administration, and Congress are working hard to stimulate the economy and get this country moving out of its prolonged recession. While there may be some disagreement about what programs work, we can all agree that a big key to successful growth is by stimulating small businesses. As they survive and thrive, so, too, will the economy.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, there are an estimated 29.6 million small businesses in the United States that employ just over half of the country’s private sector workforce. We as citizens — and our government leaders — should be doing whatever we can to support small business growth. One way that government leaders can do so is through continued support of the Small Business Administration, and particularly support of SCORE and other entrepreneurial development resources. (Disclosure: Constant Contact CEO Gail Goodman is on the SCORE Board of Directors.)
While SCORE’s success and its impact on small businesses has been remarkable to date, I find it surprising that Federal budgets of the past two years have called for level funding (via grants from the Small Business Administration) of the organization.
In Fiscal Year 2008 and 2009, SCORE received $5 million in grants each year. In the current 2010 budget, the President requested level funding for the organization. Fortunately, SCORE’s work with Congress helped increase that amount to $7 million. Yet, the 2011 budget proposed by the President again asks for level funding at $7 million. The government is spending nearly a trillion dollars on stimulus programs and it can’t find a couple extra million for SCORE?
Why SCORE? It’s one of the best-kept secrets in business. If you have an idea for a business, own a business and are looking to grow, or just need advice on how to stay afloat, SCORE will match you up with a counselor a business expert that will provide FREE advice and guidance. How many laid off workers are using the opportunity to hatch their own business dream and could use a little advice on how to get started, write a business or marketing plan, and find funding? SCORE can help. (Did I mention it’s free?)
How can the group offer so much value for no cost? Support from organizations such as HP, the Office Depot Foundation, Deluxe Corporation, Sony, Avaya, and Constant Contact helps immensely, as do the current SBA grants. But more can be done.
The more small businesses we can create and sustain will only help the economy in the long run and will hopefully reduce our staggering unemployment rate. The President, Congress, and the rest of us should be encouraging increased investments in groups like SCORE that help small business succeed. The success of our economy depends on it.