SBA administrator wants to see LGBTQ businesses succeed

Isabelle Guzman

Isabel Guzman says LGBTQ-owned businesses are a priority for her agency

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Writer
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To celebrate National Small Business Week May 1-7, Isabel Guzman, Administrator of the Small Business Administration, wanted to make sure LGBTQ business owners know they are eligible for loans and programs helping underserved communities.

Guzman said she wants to make sure LGBT-owned businesses aren’t left behind. Bringing economic empowerment to the LGBTQ community is one of her goals as the 27th SBA Administrator.

Guzman was sworn in more than a year ago and has always been a supporter of small business, she said. In her post, she represents 32.5 million small businesses across the United States and is “committed to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs start, grow, and be resilient.”

Before being appointed to serve in the Biden administration, Guzman was the director of the California office of the Small Business Advocate in Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration.

During the Obama administration, she served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor for the SBA, where she oversaw policy and implementation of new programs.

Before that, Guzman was a small business owner herself.

To strengthen ties between the SBA and LGBTQ-owned businesses, the agency has created a number of strategic ties with local organizations, including one with the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, which works in conjunction with the Chamber Local North Texas LGBT.

The SBA recommends that businesses be certified as LGBTQ-owned through a program offered by the North Texas LGBT Chamber or, for businesses elsewhere, through the national chamber.
Guzman defined businesses eligible for SBA assistance as businesses with 500 or fewer employees.

Ahmad Goree

Ahmad Goree is a senior economic development specialist and public information officer for the SBA’s Dallas office. He said $1.8 billion in loans passed through his office for that geography, ranking it fourth out of 68 offices nationwide — ahead of New York, Houston and Chicago.

Goree said there are five resource partner programs that he encourages companies interested in SBA support to access. Small Business Development Centers are connected to Dallas College and provide counseling for businesses seeking start-up assistance or expansion funds. SCORE has offices in Dallas and Fort Worth and provides mentors to help start or grow a business.

UT Arlington’s Veteran’s Business Outreach Center and Women’s Business Center provide start-up and expansion guidance for women-owned or veteran-owned businesses.

A newer Community Browser is associated with the US bailout to notify businesses of new programs that have become available in response to the pandemic. Browsers are particularly focused on business owners in communities that have trust issues as well as those who speak languages ​​other than English.

“Go to one of these resources first,” advised Goree. He said these consulting services are free, rather than the $600 an hour someone would charge for these valuable services.

And, he advised, before applying for an SBA loan, have a business plan in place. This is something a community mentor can help write or improve.

Have up-to-date financial and tax information. Make a list of all available collateral to secure a loan and work with a counselor to rectify any issues on personal and business credit reports.

When your business is ready to apply for a loan, go to the SBA website where there is a matching service to help you find the best lenders to apply to.

Goree explained that the matching feature finds lenders who work with certain types of businesses.

“Some lenders don’t work with restaurants, for example,” he said. Other considerations are the size of the business and the loan amount requested. Some lenders only work in a certain geographic area, which is a plus for Dallas businesses. Goree pointed out that Dallas is hot right now.

And get LGBTQ certified. The SBA is interested in the success of LGBTQ-owned businesses.

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