WASHINGTON – The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that for the second year, the SBA is launching an Accelerator Growth Fund competition for accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models to compete for monetary prizes of $50,000 each, totaling $4 million. The application period is from April 10-June 1 and information about the application process can be found at: www.sba.gov.

“We’re launching a second Accelerator Growth Fund competition to spur even greater opportunities for America’s small businesses,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.  “Last year’s event was so successful, we’re looking forward to discovering and empowering the next trailblazers.  Accelerators provide valuable resources to potential startups: a physical infrastructure to work in their infancy, mentoring, business-plan assistance, networking, opportunities to obtain venture capital, and introductions to potential customers, partners and suppliers—all critical elements to ensuring that small businesses flourish and succeed.”

Similar to last year’s competition, several panels containing expert judges from the private and public sector with collective experience in early stage investing, entrepreneurship, academia, start-ups and economic development will select the winners.  The competition includes accelerators, incubators, co-working startup communities, shared tinker-spaces or other models.  The panel will give particular attention to, applicants that fill geographic gaps in the accelerator and entrepreneurial ecosystem space.

Through this competition, the SBA is looking to support the development of accelerators and their support of startups in parts of the country where there are fewer conventional sources of access to capital (i.e., venture capital and other investors).

In addition, the SBA is also seeking accelerators headed by women and those that support them or other underrepresented groups. Thirty-two percent of last year’s accelerator winners were run by women and 14 percent were classified as underrepresented groups.

Manufacturing accelerator models will be given special consideration during this year’s competition, because they are critical to job growth and strengthening the nation’s economy.

Please click hereDownload Adobe Reader to read this link content for the Accelerator Growth Fact Sheet and specifics on how to apply and the timeline for 2015’s competition.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) Loan Program reached a lending record in 2014, as announced today by SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.  By the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30), SBA had approved 52,044 7(a) loans for $19.19 billion, an increase of 12 percent in number loans and 7.4 percent in dollar amount over fiscal year 2013.

The 7(a) program is designed to provide small businesses with the most comprehensive type of financial assistance to cover the vast majority of business expenses, such as short and long-term working capital, exports, and refinancing existing debt under certain conditions.

“As our economy continues to grow and recover, small businesses are the essential fuel to that continued growth,” said Contreras-Sweet. “Thanks to the hard work and outreach by our lending partners, SBA staff, and our resource partners, as well as the small business owners themselves, we have been able to put more capital into the hands of our nation’s entrepreneurs. We know that America’s small businesses pack the biggest punch, creating two out of every three net new private sector jobs in the U.S. These small businesses are the cornerstone of our communities, so their success and expansion is vital to the nation’s economic growth.”

SBA had been authorized $17.5 billion in the FY 2014 lending program.  It became clear that lending would exceed that amount; therefore the agency secured an increase for the 7(a) program in the Continuing Resolution that was approved in mid-September.

Other SBA loans that did well in fiscal 2014 were those $150,000 and under. Spurred by the fee relief implemented at the beginning of the fiscal year (fees were set to zero), these loans saw an increase of 23 percent in number of loans (30,675) and 29 percent in approved dollars ($1.86 billion) over fiscal year 2013 (24,923 and $1.44 billion respectively).

Fee relief was also instrumental in helping veteran small business owners through the Veteran Advantage initiative (zero fees on loans $150,000 to $350,000 to veterans.) Fee relief for veterans began January 1, 2014, and by the end of the fiscal year amounted to $610,000. Fee relief for both loans $150,000 and under, and for Veterans Advantage, was extended through fiscal year 2015.

Small businesses reflect the dynamic demographics of the United States. In FY 2014, the number of SBA loans to African Americans grew by roughly 36 percent over the previous year. For Hispanics and women, there was an increase of 14 percent for each group.

In our efforts to reach out and help small businesses across the nation, lenders play an important role as partners, as it is through them that SBA financial assistance is channeled and managed. In FY 2014, SBA added 308 new lenders that, collectively, made 684 loans for nearly $317 million.

As exports continue to play a pivotal role in strengthening the nation’s economy, SBA loans to exporters grew by 3.7 percent in number of loans and 12 percent in dollar amount over last year.

One of the ways in which SBA helps small businesses is through providing essential bid and performance bonds to small contractors, which allows these small businesses to be more competitive when bidding on contracts, be they with the government or the private sector. In fiscal year 2014, SBA Office of Surety Bond Program saw an increase of four percent in total contract value, from $6.168 billion in FY 2013 to $6.413 billion in FY 2014. Total bond contract amount also grew from $1.262 billion in FY 2013 to $1.358 in FY 2014, an increase of eight percent.