BY JAMES HARPER
Borrowers and lenders of loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration will have greater access to capital and less paperwork as a result of a proposed regulation aimed at streamlining the SBA application process, an administrator for the agency said this week.
The announcement comes as Bethune-Cookman University Interim President Dr. Edison Jackson signs an agreement with the SBA, another example that he is laying roots to become the university’s next full-time president if asked by the school’s Board of Trustees at their next meeting this month to take on the job.
A story that appeared in last Friday’s Florida Courier (sister newspaper of the Daytona Times) stated that Jackson would accept the position full time if asked by the board.
Access to capital
On Feb. 14, Jackson met with Cassius Butts, regional administrator for the SBA. Jackson, along with Butts and Wilfredo J. Gonzalez, the North Florida district director, signed a Strategic Alliance Memorandum (SAM).
SBA helps develop thousands of small businesses each year by providing access to start-up and expansion capital, counseling, training, surety bonding, business and home disaster mitigation loans and government contracting opportunities.
Jackson reiterated to business students who were at the signing that they are his first priority.
“Our goal is to produce world-class graduates. We want you to be proud you matriculated from here that you are prepared for the world. Stop thinking you have to work for someone else and that is your only choice,” Jackson said.
“Dream the impossible. Get rid of dream killers. Winners run with winners,” Jackson told students.
Milestone for B-CU
B-CU is the first of 59 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Southeast to enter into an agreement with the Small Business administration to promote small, minority-owned businesses, according to Butts.
Dr. Weldon Blake, B-CU’s Business Department chair, was instrumental in coordinating the SAM.
Butts said HBCUs and their faculty serve as the foundation for strong and thriving communities.
“This partnership will foster young entrepreneurship, especially in minority communities,” Butts noted.
Jackson said the partnership with SBA is a milestone for B-CU.
“With the signing of this agreement, B-CU will be able to help the community that surrounds our campus, but more importantly, give our students the tools and resources they need to become successful entrepreneurs,” he explained.
Early exposure to B-CU
Butts, from Philadelphia, was raised in Orlando. He said in an interview with the Daytona Times that his first exposure to an HBCU was a visit to Bethune-Cookman while in high school.
Butts graduated from Morehouse College and then earned a graduate degree from Clark Atlanta University’s School of Public Administration.
He is responsible for delivery of SBA programs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Prior to joining SBA, Butts was employed as one of three chiefs of the Real Estate Owned Division with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he began his career as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2002.
Butts founded CB Consulting Group, LLC, which focused on helping small business entrepreneurs create their business dreams.
He enjoys his job as regional administrator for SBA because he is able to give back and reach out to others following in his footsteps.
“I hope we touch someone’s life. You will take care of us one day,” said Butts to a room full of business majors who witnessed the signing of the SAM.
Butts also had advice for the students. “I followed my passion. Passion is your purpose, purpose is your plan,” he remarked.
Community outreach coming
Jackson said that once B-CU students are exposed to what SBA is all about, the plan is “to go out in the community, tutoring, training – talk to them (Daytona Beach residents) about becoming entrepreneurs.”
There is currently no SBA office in Daytona Beach. Butts said residents will now be able to go to B-CU for information on how to seek SBA’s help.
“We need to make sure more people know about SBA. If they are not able to come to the office, we will reach out to them,” Butts stated.
“If we empower students, we can empower the community,” he continued.
‘Streamlining and simplifying’
SBA Administrator Karen Mills said in a press release this week that fewer regulations will streamline applications and ensure program integrity through enhanced oversight.
“Streamlining and simplifying has been a key focus of our agency over the last few years. The changes are the latest steps to reduce paperwork burden, with our eye on the larger goal of expanding access to capital and giving entrepreneurs and small business owners the financial resources to grow and create jobs,” she said.
“Specifically, these proposed regulations will provide greater access to capital through our two largest loan programs, while also reducing risk to taxpayer dollars.”
The SBA proposes the new measures after extensive consultations with lenders and borrowers to identify the greatest challenges they face and find ways to reduce barriers to making and accessing loans, while still maintaining strict oversight.
For comprehensive information on the new rules and their benefits, visit http://www.sba.gov/content/revised-oca-regulations-504-and-7a-loan-program.