Este informe no está disponible en español.
SBA: An Economic Development Tool
New director of SBAs Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islands District Office, Carmen Ana Culpeper, to focus on marketing agencys products and services
By JOSE L. CARMONA
April 15, 2004
April marks a new beginning for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBAs Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands District Office recently welcomed Carmen Ana Culpeper as its director. And last week, President Bush signed legislation giving the SBA more loan power.
With this new legislation in hand, Culpeper said her top priority will be to market the agency and its improved products and services as economic development tools. This, she said, is in step with the vision SBA Administrator Hector Barreto has set for the agency.
"Barreto has placed great importance on the SBA by improving its products, expanding their use throughout the U.S., and better explaining its products and services, so that the agency becomes a true economic development tool," Culpeper told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS during an exclusive interview.
Last weeks legislation, supported by Barreto, should help it achieve its goals. Bush increased SBAs loan authority for its flagship 7(a) loan program. With a $3 billion increase, it now has $12.5 billion to fund partial guarantees to lenders willing to extend loans to small businesses. The increase lifts the three-month-old cap of $750,000 on 7(a) loans and returns it to its previous $2 million level. It also drops restrictions on piggyback loans, which are two loans structured together to provide financing in excess of the $2 million limit.
Barreto appointed Culpeper on April 2, and she officially began her duties on April 5. As district director, Culpeper will manage the delivery of the agencys financial assistance, its management counseling, business development, and minority enterprise development activities throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In the past, said Culpeper, district offices used to place too much emphasis on getting people to understand what steps to follow in the loan process, rather than on promoting those loans. Now, with a much speedier process in place, SBA employees can dedicate more time to training financial institutions as well as small businesses in what they need to do to get the loans approved, and can therefore promote SBA products and services better.
"In Puerto Rico, where speed in the loan approval process is very important, we will be emphasizing the SBA Express loan, which has a 50% SBA loan guarantee [for loans up to $250,000] and 24-hour approval," said Culpeper, a past Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce president. "This doesnt mean, however, that the 7(a) loan, with a 75% loan guarantee, will be promoted less, since it has been one of the best products from the SBA in Puerto Rico."
In fiscal year 2003, which ended on Sept. 30, the local SBA district office awarded 4,625 loans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for $332 million (excluding 7(a), 504, and Microloans). Of the total, 476 loans were from the disaster loan program for $8 million.
As of March 31 of this year, the local SBA district office reported 529 loans for $61.2 million. This translates into a 49.7% increase in the amount of loans, and a 44.9% increase in the number of loans when compared with the same time in 2003.
"As we see increased economic expansion along with historically low interest rates and a strong and solid banking industry, this is the appropriate time to promote the financing tools available to those wanting to establish their own small business or expand an existing one," said Culpeper.
Before she joined the SBA, Culpeper served as a management consultant and director of Levitt Homes and Intech of Puerto Rico. Prior to this, she was a director of Santander BanCorp and Centennial Communications Corp. In 1999, she was the last president, before its privatization, of the government-owned Puerto Rico Telephone Co. Previously, Culpeper ran the State of New York Mortgage Agency and directed the Puerto Rico office of New York-based brokerage firm Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.
Culpeper was the first woman to be named Puerto Ricos local secretary of the treasury in 1981. Since that time, she has chaired a number of professional organizations such as the American Business Womens Association, Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, State Society of Certified Public Accountants, Hispanic Federation of New York City, and Aspira of America.
The new local SBA district director holds a masters degree in business administration from the Wharton School of Commerce and a bachelors degree from the University of Puerto Rico, from which she graduated summa cum laude.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.