SPOKANE, Wash. – Calvin Goings, the Region X administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), knows that access to capital is the lifeblood of small businesses. In a short address Wednesday to a meeting of the Inland Northwest Partners in Spokane, Goings said the lifeblood is flowing again – and that bodes well for the economic recovery.
“I’m an optimist and I’m a realist,” he said. “This didn’t happen overnight and we won’t get out of it overnight.”
Businesses find funding
Since passage of the 2009 Recovery Act, the SBA has guaranteed nearly 3,000 loans worth almost $1 billion in Washington state, Goings said. Across the country, the SBA leveraged $800 million in taxpayer dollars and turned it into 70,000 loans worth more than $32 billion, he said.
“It’s a start and things are going in the right direction,” he said.
The focus of the meeting was “Finding Your Future: Finding Funding for Economic Growth” and it was sponsored by the Palouse Knowledge Corridor.
State’s grant among the largest
Following his prepared remarks, Goings talked about continuing efforts to expand export trade in Washington.
Just this week, he said, the state received a $1.6 million grant to help business owners participate in overseas trade missions and develop relationships with business partners overseas. Washington received the third largest grant in the country, Goings said, and that is a tribute to the work already being done to promote export trade in this state.
The funding is from the State Trade and Export Promotion program, and it aligns with President Obama’s National Export Initiative and Gov. Christine Gregoire’s State Export Initiative, which were announced in 2010. The national initiative seeks to double U.S. exports in five years.
Gregoire’s goal is to increase the number of Washington state companies exporting by 30 percent. Currently, about 8,000 Washington businesses are involved in export trade.
International trade centers prepare small businesses
Funding to support those initiatives enabled the Washington Small Business Development Centers Network to open two export trade centers earlier this year. The Washington SBDC, which is funded through a partnership with Washington State University, the U.S. Small Business Administration and other institutions of higher education and economic development, has provided no-cost, one-to-one business advising to small business owners for 30 years.
Opening the international trade centers was a new initiative that already is seeing results. Working out of offices in Spokane and Tukwila, trade specialists have begun working with nearly 200 business owners who are new to export.
“These are top shelf practitioners when it comes to export,” Goings said. “They are really our front line for getting small business owners ready to hit the international stage.”
Under a collaborative agreement with the Washington State Department of Commerce, SBDC international trade specialists work with new-to-export clients on early stage development while the DOC works with clients once they have established export markets and are looking to expand.
Building support for SBA, federal jobs bill
Goings was at the meeting to highlight the work of the SBA—helping small business owners get access to capital, government contracts and business counseling—and to build support for the American Jobs Act.

In his brief remarks, Goings mentioned several highlights of Obama’s proposed jobs bill, including: cutting payroll taxes for 98 percent of businesses, affecting more than 150,000 firms in Washington State; extending for one year the ability of businesses to deduct 100 percent of the cost of new equipment; and providing tax credits for hiring veterans or the long-term unemployed.

(On Wednesday, Congress passed legislation that would expand job training for veterans and offer tax credits to companies that hire unemployed veterans. It’s the first section of Obama’s jobs package to win Congressional approval.)
Goings also said the SBA is conducting a nationwide review of its service providers. It wants to partner with local communities and local agencies, he said, but all government agencies need to make sure they are conducting business as efficiently and as effectively as possible.

For more information about Inland Northwest Partners, go to www.inwp.org.
For more information about the WSBDC, go to www.wsbdc.org.
For more information about the U.S. Small Business Administration, go to www.sba.gov.
Brett Rogers, Washington SBDC, barogers@wsu.edu, 509-358-7767