SBA Reaches Out to New U.S. Citizens in Effort to Spawn Next Crop of Small Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) joined forces with the Edison Chamber of Commerce to launch President Barack Obama’s newest initiative to continue strengthening the economy – The New Americans Initiative.

In November 2014, President Obama created a formal interagency body, the White House Task Force on New Americans, to develop programs, services and strategies targeted at integrating new U.S. citizens and refugees into the fabric of society. Sixteen federal departments and agencies, including the SBA and White House offices are represented on the Task Force. The Initiative focuses on three pillars of integration – civic, economic and linguistic.

The SBA’s role is to hone in on the economic pillar by engaging America’s newest citizens to educate them about the programs and services that the agency offers to help start, grow and expand small businesses while also integrating them into the U.S. economy.  Immigrants have played a pivotal role in building the U.S. economy as evidenced in a study by the Partnership for a New American Economy which found that immigrants, or their children, have founded 40 percent of all Fortune 500 companies and employ over 10 million people worldwide generating annual revenues of $4.2 trillion.

“The New Americans Initiative is yet another example of the Obama Administration’s relentless efforts to continue to grow, undergird and strengthen the U.S. economy,” said SBA Regional Administrator Kellie LeDet, who oversees the agency’s programs and services in Region 2 encompassing New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

LeDet took the Initiative to New Jersey as part of her ongoing effort to cast a wide net over the state, penetrating all corners and markets with information on the SBA.  “America’s journey and its success would not have been possible without generations of immigrants who have helped our country become the great economic power it is today,” she said. “This Initiative seeks to both ignite the entrepreneurial spirit among new citizens as well as provide the critical information, right out of the gate, to immigrant entrepreneurs looking to start businesses in their newly adopted home,” she added.

Tasked with aiding new citizens to become small business owners, the SBA developed SBA 101 a primer to SBA’s portfolio and services that provides for free classes and workshops that introduce the Agency to new citizens and prepares them for operating in the U.S. market while equipping them with the needed tools, trainings and assistance required to get them lender-ready.

In recent months LeDet has been attending swearing-in ceremonies to take her message to new citizens on their first day of becoming U.S. citizens.

“At the SBA we encourage New Americans to embrace entrepreneurship as a way of life,” LeDet said. “The American Dream does exist for those who wish to pursue it and the SBA has the programs and services in place to support a new wave of citizens who want to contribute to growing our economy.”

Today, 41.3 million foreign-born residents live in the United States, including 3 million refugees who have resettled here since 1975 from around the globe. While 13 percent of the overall U.S. population is foreign-born, it is expected that over the next 20 years immigrants and their children will account for 28 percent of the net growth in all new businesses and 85 percent of the net growth of the U.S. labor force.

The Edison Chamber of Commerce, which represents a diverse group of over 7,000 businesses and entrepreneurs in the Township of Edison in Middlesex County, partnered with SBA to inform its members and immigrant community about the Initiative. “This type of direct outreach is critical to helping launch new Americans into entrepreneurs and truly reinforces for them that the SBA is committed to helping them start new businesses here in our country,” said Nathan Rudy, president of the Edison Chamber of Commerce. “Our clients are eager and hungry to contribute to this great nation through business ownership, creating jobs and contributing back to the tax base. Getting these drilled down messages from SBA, the SBDC and SBA micro lenders while making important connections in building a business network, is an invaluable opportunity for them as well,” he added.

Elayne McClaine, regional director for Middlesex County’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Rutgers News Brunswick, an SBA Business Resource Partner, couldn’t agree more.

“Among these faces are future small business owners who will diversify and expand our small business landscape, beautify our neighborhoods and business corridors, hire other U.S. citizens and grow our local, state and national economies,” said McClaine. “New Jersey is a fertile market for small businesses and at the SBDC we help with everything from writing a business plan or marketing strategy, showing entrepreneurs how to use social media, or deciding what type of business they want to form to financial literacy and so much more. Our services are open to all, whether a new or existing U.S. citizen. We want to see small businesses succeed and see them grow here in our state,” she stated.

Through the hard work of SBA’s New Jersey District Office, the state’s loan volume and numbers are up 35 percent over the past 10 months with loans totaling more than $688 million compared to the same time period last year. The Agency is banking on programs like SBA 101 to increase those numbers and diversify the kinds of new small businesses on a local, state and national level. For more information about SBA’s programs and services in New Jersey call (973) 645-6265 or you can visit SBA online at www.sba.gov.

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