The main objectives of the U.S. Small Business Administration are to assist Americans to start, build and grow businesses. Servicing 27 counties in Western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh District Office headed by Dr. Kelly A. Hunt is one of 68 SBA district offices responsible for the delivery of its programs.
SBA administrator Linda McMahon recently visited Pittsburgh. “The purpose of this visit is to meet the District Office staff and to make the SBA and its services better known throughout the region and state of Pennsylvania,” McMahon told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “I want to make the SBA known to more people for all the services we offer other than the first thought that comes to mind, loans. We have resource partners like SCORE which are volunteers from the business and executive world that coach entrepreneurs and help them get their businesses going. We have the Women Business Centers and the Small Business Development Centers and many other available resources for counseling and coaching. I think the mentoring and networking process is often just as important to entrepreneurs as the access to capital.”
McMahon’s goal is to now travel nationwide and visit every district office within the next couple of years through the Ignite Tour. Her focus will be on listening to business owners, educating about SBA’s services for access to capital, mentoring and federal contracting, advocating for entrepreneurs and driving economic growth with small businesses.
A popular SBA program offered by the Pittsburgh District Office is the Emerging Leaders Program, a federal training initiative. “The training has been very beneficial thus far,” said John Phillips, operations manager of Big Lulu’s Trucking, owned by his wife Celeste. “It has been helping me understand our financial growth potential and what we need to do to get to the next level. I’m even learning from the other businesses in the class.”
The Phillips describe Big Lulu’s Trucking, based in Homewood, as a tri-axel dump truck hauling business. Serving Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Westmoreland counties, they transport bulk commodities, raw materials, construction and demolition waste, scrap metals, stone and landscape material.
The Emerging Leaders Program, free to participants, provides executives with the organizational framework, resource network, and over 100 hours of training. Participants work with experienced professionals and develop connections with their peers, city leaders and financial communities while promoting sustainable businesses and increasing economic development within urban communities.
With 97 percent of the businesses in the Pittsburgh region considered small, the Pittsburgh District Office reports that last year they guaranteed almost $1.5 million in loans contributing to the retention and creation of over 1,300 jobs.
McMahon serves as the 25th administrator of the SBA and advocates on behalf of more than 28 million small businesses in America which employ nearly half of all American workers and account for 56.8 million jobs. Also, an entrepreneur and business executive, she is a co-founder and former chief executive officer of Women’s Leadership LIVE LLC, a company that uses live events and ongoing relationships to educate and inspire women to launch and expand their own businesses. McMahan is a co-founder and former chief executive officer of WWE, based in Connecticut. She helped grow WWE from a 13-person regional operation to a publicly traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees in offices worldwide.
McMahon said she has known the President for about 25 years and that he was familiar with her history of growing her business from the ground up. This helped her obtain the position as SBA Administrator. Eventually, she took her business public on the New York Stock Exchange.
“The President and I met when he was President-elect, and he talked to me about taking on this job. He said, ‘I want somebody that knows about business, especially about small business.’”
McMahon said she and her husband have grown their business from sharing a desk, have been through bankruptcy and lost everything, and knows how difficult it is to gain access to capital. “I can walk the walk and talk the talk when working with the small business community,” she said, noting that the President felt that was a great advantage to understand what small businesses need. “He wanted someone that could be an advocate in Washington for small businesses.”
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