In The News

More Funds Available from Banks for Small Businesses in East Texas

Longview News Journal

A Small Business Administration official on Friday encouraged more lenders to participate in efforts to help the financial needs of East Texas' small businesses.
By MIKE ELSWICK
A Small Business Administration official on Friday encouraged more lenders to participate in efforts to help the financial needs of East Texas' small businesses.

Yolanda Olivarez, a regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, spoke at a banker training workshop in Longview.

"Small business drives the economy," she said. "We know small businesses are facing tough times. It's always a challenge because things never stay the same."

The SBA and the Kilgore College Small Business Development Center organized the session. Brad Bunt, director of the Kilgore center, said the training was designed for lenders to get a better understanding of SBA loan programs.

Olivarez said some of the changes at the federal level in recent months have improved her agency's ability to serve small-business operators.

"One of the most important ways we can help small business today is by providing them capital when they need it," she said. "I have a passion to contribute to the success of small business and our agency is on a mission to accomplish that."

President Barack Obama appointed Olivarez in August to the SBA post responsible for Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana. She had a 35-year career in banking, including more than 10 years as a senior vice president for Wells Fargo Bank.

In East Texas' Congressional District 1, Olivarez said the administration has made 32 loans representing more than $15 million to small business in the first few months of the 2009-10 budget year, which began Oct. 1. She said that was more than double the $6.7 million in SBA-backed loans approved in all of the previous budget year.

"That's not happening by chance. It's happening through the dedication of the SBA working with bankers," Olivarez said. "Small business creates 65 percent of all private sector jobs — it drives the economy and it's our agency's job to continue to support it."

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, also addressed the group, warning the audience that an effort to have the government directly issue student loans has gained some support from people who also would like to see government get involved in directly making business loans. He said the federal government should leave the business of making loans to banks and other lenders.
"You need to stay forever vigilant," Gohmert urged the bankers. He said the federal economic stimulus plan did not do enough to help small business.

"When you have a $787 billion stimulus package and tell people you're going to use it to create jobs, but less than 1 percent goes to help small business, which is the main generator of jobs, your priorities are all wrong," Gohmert said. "It really is small business that is the breeding ground for job creation."