The SBA Has A Mission: The 3 Cs

Hello from Washington D.C., where I am covering National Small Business Week.  Earlier today I attended the keynote address of SBA Administrator Karen Mills (pictured below giving the keynote).

Karen Mills, Administrator of SBAOne of the most impressive parts of her talk was the description of the SBA’s mission for small businesses — she called it the “3 Cs.”

Now, if you’re an Internet entrepreneur, you may be thinking you know the 3 Cs.  Back in 1999, Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Computer, defined the  3 Cs of e-commerce as:  “content, community and commerce.”

But that’s not what it means when it comes to the SBA.  The 3 Cs refers to the Small Business Administration’s mission to provide small businesses with:

  • Capital
  • Contracts
  • Counseling

I don’t think this description is a departure from what the SBA has been doing.  What is different is that the SBA seems to be getting better at articulating  its mission.  It used to be tough to figure out what the SBA did.  Now the message now is cogent and clearer.

So how is the SBA doing on each of the 3 Cs when it comes to mainstreet small businesses?  Here’s what Administrator Mills reported:


SBA loan volume has now surpassed pre-credit-crunch levels.


With the support of the Vice President the SBA has reached out to small businesses all across the nation, with matchmaking events and other activities that drove $8 Billion (29% of Recovery Act funds) into the hands of small businesses.

There’s also renewed emphasis o women-owned businesses:  emphasis on getting more contracts to women.


Many small businesses are being impacted by the Gulf Coast oil spill.  Yesterday the SBA opened a Disaster Center in Louisiana to help small businesses (such as fishermen and charter boat operators).

The SBA is on the ground for 40 disaster areas today, simultaneously (because as Administrator Mills says, “We stay.”).

The SBA has descreased disaster loan processing times dramatically.  They used to take around 60 days.  Today there is 7 days’  turn-around time for home loans and 14 days for business disaster loans.

As for the future, the SBA has a number of goals and initiatives.

“Small businesses are still struggling in part because they don’t have the capital they need,” said Mills.

The Administration is working in Congress on a targeted jobs plan bill for small businesses. Includes a provision for a $30 Billion lending fund for community banks.  This fund will provide money to community banks at rates as lows as 1%, conditioned upon the banks doing more lending to small businesses.

The Administration is also wants to raise loan limits for small businesses permanently, to $5 Million for 7(a) and 504 SBA loans, and $50,000 for microloans.

For a list of related articles see Coverage of National Small Business Week.

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.