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SBA administrator praises local company

The administrator of the Small Business Administration, Karen Mills, was in Jacksonville July 27 Karen Mills and Andy Harold.smallto praise the accomplishments of a small business owner  Andy Harold, CEO of A. Harold and Associates,  and to tell small business owners how the SBA has supported them. The press conference took place at Harold’s company.

“This summer we have been out across the country, talking about small businesses and how they create jobs. As you know, small businesses create 65% of jobs. If we are going to have recovery, we need to do it with our small business owners,” said Mills.

She continued, “Today is a fun day. We have the story of Andy Harold, and we are [here] in his business, which he grew from an incubator downtown to this operation, extending up to the second floor here.” Harold’s company provides diversified technology, education, engineering, and training support services and products to the federal government.

Mills said that Harold, a former Navy helicopter pilot, started his own training business in 2003. “In 2005 he got his first SBA loan and landed his first contract. In 2006 he got an even bigger contract, and he got it through one of our local SBA match makers… In 2007 he entered our SBA …business development program. He hired 24 new staff. In 2008 he got a Patriot Express loan, [which is] for veterans, reservists, and military spouses.”

Mills said the success of Harold and others like him is due to the availability of funding through SBA. “Over the last 16 months there are stories like this everywhere. The good news is that the Recovery Act works…70,000 have been helped with $30 billion. The bad news—we ran out of money. There is a Small Business Jobs Bill before Congress now. … The Jobs Bill is not for businesses that are struggling. This is for businesses like Andy’s that are growing. My commitment is that if we get these funds for more Recovery Act loans, we are going to put them right out into the marketplace. We have a queue waiting now of 700 small businesses that are ready to get funded for a loan.”

Mills emphasized that small business development and jobs growth would not be possible except for the win-win partnership the SBA has with banks, such as Regions Bank. The SBA guarantees loans; it does not give them. Through the Recovery Act the guarantee was upped to 90% from 75. That guarantee reduced the risk of banks and served as an incentive to give out more loans.

Linda Barloon of Regions Bank, affirmed her bank’s commitment to small business. “Since 1990 Regions has been doing SBA loans. …We provided Andy two SBA 7a loans as well as the Patriot Express loan. During the recession Regions has continued its commitment and dedication in providing additional funding to small business to help them succeed.”

Barloon said that as of June 30, Regions had awarded 35 loans in excess of $13.5 million to businesses in the north Florida district. Here at Regions we want to work hand-in-hand with the small business owner.”

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