The federal agency that helps deliver the American dream of business ownership to more Americans has turned 70 – and this small but mighty agency has punched above its weight in advancing American innovation, competition and economic growth.

For seven decades, the U.S. Small Business Administration has been a driving force behind the success of countless enterprises, from America’s Main Streets to manufacturing centers and innovation hubs, helping entrepreneurs turn good ideas into thriving businesses – including some of our country’s most iconic brands. And we’ve helped communities recover from some of the deadliest natural disasters, terrorist acts, pandemics, and disruptions.

As we mark the SBA’s 70th anniversary, we must ensure the transformative impact this agency has can be continuously improved and adapted to meet today’s and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs everywhere and anywhere they are.

Since President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Small Business Act into law in 1953, the SBA has continuously evolved and developed into a catalyst for economic growth by providing capital, revenue growth opportunities and know-how to help empower Americans to start and grow their businesses from an idea in a home office, garage, pop-up or farmers market into a brick-and-mortar, global digital marketplace or an advanced industrial innovation hub.

Although it may not be on the label, written in the code or listed on the building sign, the SBA is part of so many facets of American commerce, from the businesses you patronize to the products you consume. Some of these even grow to become giants in their industries like Apple, Qualcomm, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Chobani, which all started out small, and received SBA assistance along their paths to greatness. These companies’ successes highlight the transformative impact of the SBA’s core programs — for the founders, the employees and the communities they serve.

Just as President Eisenhower knew the importance of investing in American small business, 70 years later, President Biden is building on that vision and legacy by investing in America. Bidenomics is delivering for small businesses by prioritizing equity, leveling the playing field and getting more entrepreneurs into the marketplace than ever before. Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, America is now experiencing a small business boom – 13.1 million Americans have filed applications to start new businesses since 2021. The hope and inspiration to turn an idea into a business is alive and well.

To fulfill the President’s vision, the SBA must be as entrepreneurial as the small businesses it serves. It must continue to evolve to meet its customers’ needs in the economy.

The 70th anniversary coincides with a remarkable period in SBA’s history – as during the COVID-19 pandemic, SBA played a pivotal role in supporting businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan, Restaurant Revitalization Fund, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and debt relief to provide financial relief to save millions of businesses from their darkest days. This crisis further reinforced the agency’s entrepreneurial capacity to pivot, scale, and continuously improve to deliver whatever is needed.

We may have begun as a government agency with a single offering — our flagship 7(a) general business loan — but we have developed into a significant capital allocator in the American economy offering 504 loans for asset building, a microloan program, and investment funds for growth firms. And we have grown our small business networks with accelerators, advisors and mentors to help small businesses succeed – especially with government contracting, international trade, and digital commerce strategies.

And now we are leaning into changes to our capital programs to get more dollars to more credit-worthy small businesses who have historically not received the funding they needed to succeed. It’s about creating simpler products aligned to fill market gaps and serving entrepreneurs through a larger and more diversified network of lenders and investors.

We have streamlined underwriting while instituting stronger eligibility and fraud controls to ensure more loans can get into the right hands, including for underserved entrepreneurs. And we have expanded our investment program to align with cash flows of longer duration and equity-oriented funds to better support early-stage technologies and capital-intensive industries. We want all our entrepreneurs with great ideas to grow and create jobs for their communities.

As the SBA enters its eighth decade, we’re continuing to evolve and modernize our operations so that small businesses can build our economy from the bottom up and the middle out as we Invest in America.

When American entrepreneurs succeed, our economy and our nation succeed. And, as we look to the future, the SBA will be there helping them to spark innovation and prosperity for years to come.

Isabella Casillas Guzman was sworn in as the 27th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration on March 17, 2021. She serves as the voice for America’s 33 million small businesses and startups in President Joe Biden’s cabinet.

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