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The new head of the SBA plans to make changes in the agency; The focus is now on COVID-19

NEW YORK (AP) – The new head of the Small Business Administration says he expects to make changes to the agency that he says will help small companies that were devastated by the COVID-19 epidemic in the future.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Friday, two days after her inauguration, Isabella Casillas Guzman said she was focusing on implementing the small business provisions of the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package signed by President Joseph O’Brien Biden last week. :

The country has lost 400,000 businesses since the epidemic began, Guzman said, warning that “many are at risk.”

Guzman expects small business items in the rescue package to help, including $ 10 billion in government loans to companies and $ 100 million in a new program called Community Navigator to educate struggling business owners. But he said more coronavirus vaccines – the $ 1,400 incentive payments millions of Americans receive – would eventually help businesses help boost the economy.

These are indirect assistance programs. The rescue package also included direct assistance in the form of additional funding for a pay-as-you-go protection program, more than $ 28 billion in grants to restaurants that were disrupted by government-ordered outages during the outbreak of the virus.

Guzman already knows how the SBA works as a deputy chief of staff during the Obama administration.

“We will look at our overall plans to see the way forward for small businesses,” he said. Guzman acknowledged that the role of the SBA has changed dramatically since the epidemic. He said the agency had received more attention than ever before.

Over the past year, the focus of the SBA lending has been on PPP, which has approved about 8 million loans worth more than $ 700 billion. Prior to the outbreak, the agency’s main credit machines were its (7 (a) 4 504 projects, the owners of which applied for loans to start and build their own businesses. These traditional lending programs may see some change, says Guzman.

The Administrator’s agenda also includes upgrading SBA technology to make it more accessible to businesses. He noted that many companies have adopted or upgraded their technologies to survive the virus outbreak.

“We just need to make sure we modernize the SBA,” he said.

The SBA plans to use Community Navigator to gather information to help it decide what changes it needs to make. The program aims to partner with community financial institutions և SBA-sponsored Small Business Development Centers to combat and help vulnerable businesses.

“It will give us a strong feedback from small businesses on what they need,” Guzman said.

Prior to joining the SBA, Guzman worked as the director of the California Small Business Attorney’s Office. He has held positions at companies including ProAmerica Bank, California-based commercial bank GovContractPros and co-founder of Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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