Helping small businesses

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A recent visit by the regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration brought the news that the SBA intends to open an office in Cape Girardeau. This is part of an expansion that will include two other new offices in Hannibal and either Columbia or Jefferson City. The SBA already has offices in St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield. The new office in Cape Girardeau, said Sam Jones, will be staffed by volunteers.

Small businesses are the bedrock of American free enterprise. Small businesses provide most of the private-sector jobs in the United States. Small businesses also face the most headaches when dealing with government red tape and regulations.

It is difficult to measure the success of federal agencies like the SBA, except to say that millions of tax dollars are funneled through such agencies every year. Whether or not such spending produces a rate of return that would be acceptable to the owner of any successful business is not widely known.

Statistically, four out of five new businesses close their doors every year. Whether those businesses close because they failed or for other reasons is a matter of concern to agencies like the SBA, which guarantees many startup loans for small businesses.

The prospects for the success of a new SBA office anywhere, including Cape Girardeau, will depend on how much new -- and successful -- business activity can be generated and documented at a cost to taxpayers that can be considered a reasonable expenditure of tax dollars.

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