A review of the biggest small business and startup stories from the past week, with a focus on Washington.
SBA ups funding to private investors: The Small Business Administration last week announced that it will ramp up funding for its Small Business Investment Company program to $4 billion from $3 billion annually. Through the program, which was started more than a half century ago, the department provides capital to hundreds of private investment firms that finance small businesses. (WSJ)
Growth at mid-size firms on the decline: Mid-size companies continue to struggle to recover from the economic downturn, according to a new report from the National Center for the Middle Market, which showed that employment growth at firms with between $10 million and $1 billion in annual revenue slowed from 2.7 percent during the last quarter of 2012 to 2.5 percent in 2014, and it’s supposed to decline further to 2.2 percent in the coming year. Revenue growth has also slumped 7 percent to 5 percent over the same period. (MMI)
Zuckerberg launches app for immigration reform:Mark Zuckerberg’s lobbying group FWD.us has launched a mobile app called Push4Reform in an effort to drum up support for immigration reform proposals in Congress. By entering their Zip code, users can find out where their elected officials stand on the legislation and find ways to contact them. The app was initially dreamed up and programmed by three immigrant entrepreneurs. (CNN)
Mixed reviews for federal contracting program: Seven out of eight participants in the SBA’s long-standing 8(a) business development program, which is designed to help socially and economically disadvantaged companies sell to the government, question the value of participation, according to a yearlong study released by Eddy Communications. Seventy percent of certified 8(a) participants who responded did not win a contract in their first two years in the program, and half of those never won workfrom the government. (EDDY)
Labor Secretary talks minimum wage with employers: Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez met last week with small-business owners from various sectors and regions of the country to discuss the prospects of a minimum wage hike. Expected to be a focal point in the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, raising the minimum wage has the support of many small-business groups, who say higher pay would lead to more consumer spending. Others worry it would force small companies in sectors like retail and restaurants to drop workers. (YAHOO)
SBA chief returning to the private sector: Jeanne Hulit, the SBA’s acting administrator, will leave the agency next month to join Northeast Bancorp as president of its northeast community banking division. Currently a member of the president’s cabinet, Hulit took over as the agency’s interim director this past fall. President Obama has nominated Maria Contreras-Sweet as the next administrator. (MB)
What are you keeping an eye on this week? Please let us know below.