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The National Association of Women Business Owners, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter and the Veterans Business Outreach Center, hosted a Small Business Funding Opportunity Workshop and forum last week introducing the audience to the Community Express Loan Program. Sue Malone and Congressman Joe Sestak, were on hand to discuss the status of small business funding.

TIME AFTER—Me’chele Humpries-Hayes of Centre of Attraction, left, and Tamara Charles of Our Little Ones Daycare Center, meet with Congressman Joe Sestak, Richard Portis and Sue Malone after the forum.

Your dreams are our mission, is the motto of Strategies for Small Business. “My goal is to make you all millionaires,” Malone, founder of the business, told a crowd of more than 50 women, minority and veteran business owners. In Pittsburgh to drum up support for the Community Express Loan Program, Malone stressing the importance of the loan fund and vowed she will fight as long as necessary to assure no cap is put on the 11-year- old pilot program. Her concern is that the program is in jeopardy of losing its funding.

Specifically devised by the U.S. Small Business Administration to be quick, modest on paperwork and reasonably priced, Malone classifies CELP as the best product on the market for small business financing. She says it applies to all members of the business community, inclusive of the low- to moderate- and rural areas, women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses.

Considered as a SBA licensed leaner, Malone has been recognized by the SBA as the number one loan provider in the nation for five consecutive years with more than 35,000 funded loans in all 50 states. She is described by many as the undisputed, number one SBA loan provider.

Malone says the loan program she is affiliated with is simple and easy ranging from $5,000 to $60,000 with affordable principal and interest payments. She points out that compared to other loan providers the loan can be used for start-up or existing businesses and requires no tax returns, financials, business plan or collateral.

As a way to keep funding for small businesses in the forefront of the minds of politicians, Malone, while traveling the United States conducting workshops, is consistently soliciting support and looking for lawmakers who believe in small business. She considers Sestak of Pennsylvania as such an ally.

Sestak, vice chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives, Small Business Committee says he believes in supporting and strengthening small business in the community. “I want to be the small business champion in Pennsylvania,” he says pointing out that he feels small businesses have been neglected. He said that in recent months, small businesses that comprise 99 percent of American industry and employ half of the private sector workforce, have struggled with plunging consumer demand while finding that needed credit has been shut off in frozen financial markets. He continued by indicating that he believes we must provide new authorities to the Small Business Administration, target tax relief for small businesses and access to credit, among other efforts.

Throughout his tenure as Congressman, he has authored numerous bills concerning small business and recently met with minority business leaders at the Pennsylvania Minority Business Enterprise Center to talk about a bill he introduced to congress.

A segment of the bill authorizes $120 million for a grant program to establish MBECs at colleges and universities serving minorities and to develop and expand training for minority entrepreneurs.

Pittsburgh NAWBOs’ mission is to strengthen the wealth-creating capacity of its members and to promote economic development, to create innovative and effective changes in the business culture, to build strategic alliances, coalitions and affiliations and to transform public policy and influence opinion makers.

Incorporated in 1975, the national NAWBO vision is to propel women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide. The membership is open to sole proprietors, partners and corporate leaders with the day-to-day management responsibilities.

Providing tools and encouragement that veteran entrepreneurs need to start and manage businesses, the Veterans Business Outreach Center offers one-to-one business counseling, mentoring, workshops, discussion groups, networking opportunities and entrepreneurial courses.

Richard Portis, Region lll coordinator says the center, located in the Adult and Continuing Education building at Robert Morris University, 600 Fifth Ave. services 500 vets a year.

(For more information, call 925-899-8449 or e-mail: info@strategiesforsmallbusinesiness.com.)

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