Linda McMahon, the co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment, plans to be an advocate for small-business owners, particularly the women among them, as head of the Small Business Administration.
That’s according to testimony from her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Small Business on Tuesday, where she discussed her vision for leading an organization that is often considered a sleepy backwater among government agencies.
McMahon, the wife of professional wrestling promoter Vince McMahon, was poised and confident as she spoke about the risks small businesses take on a daily basis, referencing one of her own early ventures that ended in bankruptcy and losing the family home. She also spoke about what she is best known for: building WWE from a small company where she and her husband once worried that $12 a month was too much for a typewriter, into a $1.5 billion publicly traded company with 800 employees.
“Small business people are people with goals and values that can’t be calculated on a profit and loss statement,” McMahon said in her opening remarks. “I will do my best to advocate on their behalf.”
Here are six things that McMahon plans to do as administrator of the SBA.
1. Keep the SBA independent. McMahon would fight to keep the SBA an independent agency and not merge it with the Department of Commerce, an idea that was first floated by the Obama Administration in 2014.
2. Strengthen the SBA’s Office of Advocacy. McMahon said she would put more teeth into the agency’s advocacy efforts as it meets with politicians on Capitol Hill. More specifically, she would use the Office to tackle any new or existing regulations that prove too burdensome to small-business owners.
3. Faster disaster recovery. McMahon said she would beef up the SBA’s disaster recovery program, and speed up the response time for getting businesses funding after a crisis. Some conservative groups have recommended removing disaster recovery loans from the wheelhouse of the SBA entirely, as a way to trim the budget. Simultaneously, business owners and congressional representatives have often criticized the SBA for delays in getting loans to business owners after natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. “Disasters don’t pick a time and we need to be prepared,” McMahon said. “We need to get the funds to [small businesses] so they can get back to functioning.”
4. Improve financial literacy. Today’s young entrepreneurs are great coming up with ideas for businesses, but too many lack a basic knowledge of finance, which is detrimental to their long-term prospects. As administrator, McMahon would help young entrepreneurs achieve a better understanding of financial matters important to their businesses.
5. Support for disadvantaged businesses. McMahon would increase federal contracting opportunities for women and other minority businesses. She’d also boost mentoring programs for women and minorities, via existing programs including SCORE.
6. More federal contracting opportunities for all small businesses. McMahon says she would streamline an often confusing and opaque process for small businesses applying for federal contracts, and she’d help small businesses to compete more effectively against larger businesses for prime contracting opportunities. (Small-business contract misallocation has been an ongoing problem within the federal government: in 2015, a total of 151 Fortune 500 companies landed government and small-business contracts, according to the American Small Business League.) Winning a prime contract makes a business the lead supplier. Small businesses are most typically subcontractors.
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