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Rhonda Abrams: New SBA chief must be vocal advocate

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By Rhonda Abrams
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

As the Small Business Administration celebrates its 60th anniversary, a new administrator will be at its helm.

With the departure of SBA chief Karen Mills, President Obama has the opportunity to appoint an advocate for America's small businesses.

Mr. President, here are qualities to keep in mind to help you determine who your administrator should be:

• An advocate for truly small businesses. The first focus of the administrator should be on those companies we all would recognize as small companies, not those with 1,000 to 2,000 employees or start-ups that plan to be small on their way to big.

• A prod to banks. Banks are flush with money, and the administrator should be meeting with bankers to encourage greater small-business lending.

• A fighter for counseling. One of the first functions of the SBA is to “aid, counsel, assist and protect” small businesses, yet this often receives the least money or attention.

• An advocate for the self-employed. One-person shops cumulatively generate almost a trillion dollars in revenue and dramatically decrease unemployment, yet few are advocating on behalf of this large segment of the American economy.

• A protector against fraud. The SBA administrator must take an active role in ensuring that small companies can take advantage of the JOBS Act's revenue streams without being taken advantage of themselves.

• A louder voice in government regulations. Many regulations have unintended consequences that negatively affect small companies.

For example, the new mortgage rules, while protecting consumers, almost certainly will make it more difficult for small-business owners and the self-employed to qualify for home mortgages.

• An experienced small-business owner. Many people consider themselves entrepreneurial, but I want an SBA administrator who truly understands the life of those of us in small business .

Mills should certainly be thanked for her public service.

Now I would like to see an energetic and vocal advocate for small companies step into her shoes.

Rhonda Abrams is president of The Planning Shop and publisher of books for entrepreneurs;:

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