Published May 2002

Businesses have a friend
in the SBA

“Hello, I’m from the government. I’m here to help you!”

Unfortunately, that familiar comic greeting, usually laced with dark humor, has come to mean trouble — not help — for American businesses.

Fortunately, when that help comes from the federal government’s Small Business Administration, it’s real.

Unfortunately, even after years of helping this nation’s small businesses start, survive and prosper, the professional, energetic efforts of the U.S. Small Business Administration still are too little known, and their business tools are too little used.

In April, to publicize their work more, the SBA’s Seattle District Office, headed by Director Bob Meredith, held its first major Northwest awards banquet at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center. Among those honored with awards was The Herald Business Journal’s Assistant Editor, Kimberly Hilden, who was named the 2002 Small Business Journalist of the Year for Washington state for her writing about SBA programs in Snohomish County and the opening of the SBA’s six-county Northwest Women’s Business Center in Everett.

But what made us proud as journalists to be writing about the SBA were the evening’s business awards for those involved in programs that made sense — and money — for small businesses. Award recipients included state Financial Services Advocate Elizabeth Rusnak of Banner Bank; Minority Small Business Advocate Regina Glenn of Pacific Communications Consultants; Women in Business Advocate Ruth Ann Halford of Seattle Women’s Business Center; and Small Business Person of the Year Alice Cunningham, co-founder of Olympic Hot Tub Co.

The efforts and successes of these enterprising business owners and small-business advocates were inspiring. Noting that small businesses are the backbone of the state and national economy, speakers at the program recounted numerous examples of how the SBA’s financial programs and the advice given through the local chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) have helped so many in the small-business community.

Programs established by the SBA and SCORE have a proven track record for helping small businesses in practical, efficient ways — and with great dedication and enthusiasm. The 276 people attending the awards dinner included many SBA staff and representatives of financial firms who work with small businesses, people from CityBank, Pacific Northwest Bank, Washington Mutual Bank, Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America.

So the next time someone visits your business and tells you they’re from the government and they want to help you, ask them if they’re with the SBA or SCORE. If they are, then relax and smile.

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© The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA