After Chairman Ed Fielder brought the Committee to order in its last meeting of the year, it seemed as though there might be something quite different in his approach for 2015. His attitude was one of definitive “order” for a full agenda that covered topics like Procurement, Capital Access, Integration of Resources for Service Disabled Veterans and finally how the SBA and VA can work together, yes that’s right, work together to leverage the strengths of both Agencies. When his schedule got tight, the Chairman fixed the problem by taking no prisoners, canceling all breaks and just got back to Veteran business. Could 2015 be the year that the SBA Advisory Committee for Veterans Business Affairs makes significant progress with requirements of Public Law 106-50? One can only hope, but the Chairman and some new sharp Board members might just pull it off.
It also appears that the Chairman will get significant help and support from new leadership at the SBA Office of Veterans Business Development. Ms. Barbara Carson has taken the reigns from Rhett Jeppson, the former Associate Administrator for the SBA Office of Veterans Business Development. Mr. Jeppson has moved up the SBA leadership ladder but still remains active with anything that helps Veterans. Both Carson and Jeppson are Veterans and both share a passion for small business. Better yet, they now still work as a team. Ms. Carson has also strengthened staff support and injected new optimism in her team which was noted by many at the Committee meeting. Underscoring the mission of the Committee, the Chairman got a welcome impromptu appearance by the SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet who outlined Veteran loan discounts which would be in effect during 2015 and underscored the SBA support for Veterans as a top priority.
With a kind of a new SBA dream team supporting the Committee it would appear that the Chairman has set table for progress next year. Of course one gets 1% for enthusiasm and 99% for execution. The Committee’s discussions of important issues such as Access to Capital and Access to Opportunities for Veterans still dominate the agenda. The Committee has supported the Boots to Business Program and is hopeful that it will go to scale in 2015. In addition, Committee members and public comments alike voiced strong support for specific tracking of sub-contracting aspects of federal prime contracts. The Veteran small business advocacy community, especially leaders like Rick Weidman at Vet-Force, told the Chairman they will help provide a strong continuous voice to resolve Veteran’s small business issues a priority for Congress in 2015. Good luck to the Chairman in providing his leadership to maintain order for progress for all Veterans in 2015.
For more information on SBA Advisory Committee for Veterans Business Affairs and its meeting minutes or attending future Committee meetings go to: www.sba.gov/offices/headquarters/ovbd