Get Started: SBA lending, energy, disaster plans

June 25, 2012 

HEARING ON LENDING

The House Small Business Committee continued its look at the Small Business Administration's lending programs on Thursday, with a hearing by the Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations. The subcommittee heard testimony from banks and credit unions that lend through SBA programs. Part of the testimony focused on changes that lenders believe the SBA needs to make in the way it operates.

David Rader, executive vice president of SBA lending at Wells Fargo & Co., said that while the SBA has been streamlining its procedures to make the lending process easier, more changes are needed. He said that rule changes sometimes take bank lending officers by surprise, "hampering our ability to react and train our teams." He suggested the SBA give lenders time to comment on proposed rule changes.

But Brett Martinez, CEO of Redwood Credit Union in Santa Rosa, Calif., said the SBA has an open dialogue with its lenders when it changes procedures. He did, however, call on the agency to review its regulations to make them less complex and burdensome.

Timothy Dixon, head of SBA lending at Flint, Mich.-based Citizens Bank, also called for the SBA to make its requirements easier for lenders to comply with, and to provide information about its changes in a timely manner. He noted that when the agency made changes to one loan program last year, lenders requested a clarification that it took the agency nine months to provide.

Thursday's hearing came two weeks after SBA Administrator Karen Mills testified before the full Small Business Committee. That hearing focused on the SBA's oversight of its lenders.

ENERGY BILL PASSES THE HOUSE

The House last week passed the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, a bill that aims at expanding oil drilling in the U.S. and that requires an analysis of energy regulations implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency. Republicans in the House said the bill would lead to the creation of more jobs and lower energy prices. But the bill approved Thursday isn't expected to become law - Democrats who control the Senate oppose it, and President Barack Obama has said he would veto it because it would roll back policies that support responsible energy production and hurt progress on clean-air rules.

Two parts of the legislation were introduced by members of the House Small Business Committee. The Planning for American Energy Act was introduced by Scott Tipton, R-Colo., chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade. It would require the secretary of the interior to draw up a strategy for oil drilling on onshore federal lands.

And the Providing Leasing Certainty for American Energy Act was introduced by Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations Chairman Mike Coffman, R-Colo. It sets a minimum for the amount of onshore oil drilling leases the government must offer for sale each year.

SBA DISASTER HELP

The Small Business Administration has streamlined its online process for applying for disaster loans. The agency says the new application will take less time to complete than the previous application that took borrowers through 80 screens. The new application looks like the paper version and is four pages for homeowners seeking disaster loans, and three pages for businesses. The application can be accessed at

The agency will hold an online seminar about disaster preparation and recovery strategies on July 10 at 2 p.m. Eastern time. The seminar will look at how to protect your business from man-made as well as natural disasters. You can register at

The SBA has more information about disaster preparedness at

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

AT&T is sponsoring an online seminar on Thursday, June 28, for small business owners. Topics will include how to win customers, find the right employees and use technology to build your company. The seminar starts at 1 p.m. Eastern time. You can register at

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Joyce Rosenberg can be reached at http://twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg

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