This week, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce held a field hearing at Queens College over the Small Business Administration’s efforts to help local businesses. During the event, witnesses who testified before the panel expressed their frustration with the lack of outreach from the SBA, particularly in helping immigrant-owned communities.
While the SBA’s acting chief of staff, Michele Chang, assured those in attendance that the agency had many programs available to help small businesses, it does not mean the owners know they are there. The SBA needs to do better in its attempts to get its programs into underserved communities. Language barriers at its Small Business Development Centers in Queens should not be acceptable excuses, especially when the SBA knows these centers are in the most diverse Borough in the world.
If the SBA wants to make a difference, it should dedicate additional resources to training its employees and volunteers, so they can overcome any linguistic or cultural barriers they may run into with business owners.
Additionally, having these two centers open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. does not help those who own businesses with the same or similar hours. One speaker’s idea that the SBA add a center with staggered hours in the Borough is welcome.
While the SBA’s programs and services are generally helpful, it is all for naught if the owners never know they are there.