By XINJUAN DENG
Capital News Service
LANSING – Small businesses are getting more chances to access capital, spur job growth and boost exports under recent federal and state initiatives.
These include the Small Business Administration (SBA), Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) and Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing pointed to resources to increase access to capital for Michigan small businesses.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating the majority of new jobs,” Stabenow said. “We continue to make sure our small businesses have access to the capital they need to grow their companies and hire new workers.”
Small businesses in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties have received $395 million in financing since 2010 under the Small Businesses Jobs Act, Stabenow said.
The act also cuts taxes and promotes exports and entrepreneurship.
For example, Coin Express is a laundry company in Hartford that has been receiving assistance from SBA and the center for more than two years.
Jeremiah Smith, company founder, said he plans on expanding and adding a coffee shop with Wi-Fi, and will continue to use the government services.
Nancy Grose, an SBA economic development specialist in Detroit, said Michigan leads the country in the number of loans, and Michigan small businesses received the second-highest number of loans in the country last year.
Grose said the SBA focuses on three areas. They are counseling and entrepreneurial development, access to capital and federal contracts.
The MEDC also assists small companies through its export promotion program.
Dave Jessup, director of government relations at the Small Business Association of Michigan, said access to capital is the most challenging and “interesting” issue for small businesses.
Jessup said the high cost of doing business in Michigan and the complicated tax code system are other challenges.
“A lot of our members are still struggling with complying with the tax system. The cost of complying is also complicated and expensive. And sometimes it is unaffordable for small businesses,” he said.
Technology-based start-up companies that emerge from universities also need a boost, said Charles Hasemann, executive director of Michigan State University Business-Connect.
“Federal funding to university laboratories is very focused on the generation of new knowledge, and that’s wonderful. But that new knowledge can often lead to a commercially interesting concept,” he said.
“Unfortunately, there is a gap in federal and private funding for moving these great ideas from the stage of a patent filing, to the stage of a commercial principle that has enough data and business planning to attract significant private investment,” he said.
Hasemann said there are limited resources for private-public partnerships to move such innovations to market.
By XINJUAN DENG