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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Small Business Management and Technical Assistance Training Programs

Robert Jay Dilger
Senior Specialist in American National Government

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has provided “technical and managerial aides to smallbusiness concerns, by advising and counseling on matters in connection with government procurement and on policies, principles and practices of good management” since it began operations in 1953. Initially, the SBA provided its own small business management and technical assistance training programs. However, over time, the SBA has relied increasingly on third parties to provide that training.

In FY2011, the SBA will provide more than $183 million to about “14,000 resource partners,” including more than 900 small business development centers, 108 women’s business centers, and 368 chapters of the mentoring program, SCORE. The SBA reports that about 1.1 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners received training from an SBA-supported resource partner in FY2010. The SBA has argued that these programs contribute “to the long-term success of these businesses and their ability to grow and create jobs.”

The Department of Commerce also provides management and technical assistance training for small businesses. For example, its Minority Business Development Agency provides training to minority business owners to assist them in becoming suppliers to private corporations and the federal government.

A recurring theme at congressional hearings concerning the SBA’s management and technical assistance training programs has been the perceived need to improve program efficiency by eliminating duplication of services and increasing cooperation and coordination both within and among SCORE, women’s business centers (WBCs), and small business development centers (SBDCs). For example, on March 15, 2011, the House Committee on Small Business recommended that several SBA training programs be defunded “because they duplicate existing programs at the SBA or at other agencies.” Congress has also explored ways to improve the SBA’s measurement of the programs’ effectiveness and to address the impact of national economic conditions on WBC and SBDC finances and their capacity to maintain client service levels and meet federal matching requirements.

This report examines the historical development of federal small business management and technical assistance training programs; describes their current structures, operations, and budgets; and assesses their administration and oversight, the measures used to determine their effectiveness, and WBC and SBDC finances and their capacity to maintain client service levels and meet federal matching requirements.

This report also discusses P.L. 111-240, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. It authorized $50 million in additional funds for SBDCs to provide targeted technical assistance to small businesses for various specified activities, such as seeking access to capital or credit; guaranteed each state not less than $325,000 of these additional funds; and waived the non-federal matching requirement for these funds. The act also authorizes the SBA to temporarily waive, in whole or in part, for successive fiscal years, the non-federal share matching requirement relating to “technical assistance and counseling” for WBCs. Two bills introduced during the 111th Congress, H.R. 2352, the Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act of 2009, and S. 3967, the Small Business Investment and Innovation Act of 2010, are also examined. They would authorize several changes to the SBA’s management and technical assistance training programs in an effort to improve their performance and oversight.

Date of Report: September 1, 2011
Number of Pages: 35
Order Number: R41352
Price: $29.95

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