Whatever happened to the days when journalists use to give the reader both sides of the story?
Throughout his article, Tom Richman constantly points to the negative aspects of the Small Business Administration. His sources include some unhappy borrowers and some disgruntled politicians -- but not once was there a positive comment about the SBA from someone who had a good experience with the agency.
Since Mr. Richman had nothing good to say about the SBA, I will. In 1977, I was encouraged by family and friends to purchase Reed Paving Inc. in East Syracuse, N.Y. The company, at the time, was $250,000 in the red. When it came time to look for working capital, not many people in the commercial lending field were interested in what I had to say -- but the SBA saw something in my business that the others didn't. They listened, and took a chance on the company by giving us a direct loan.
Seven years later, Reed Paving employs close to 95 people. Our 1983 sales figures were in the $5-million range. All this is quite a jump from our initial roster of 3 employees and the $250,000 debt we inherited. None of it would have been possible without the SBA assistance.
I will not dispute some of Mr. Richman's findings, but I will say this: The SBA has been a political football for the past 15 years. It is not the agency itself that is at fault for its shortcomings, but some of our nearsighted leaders, who have sent the SBA in so many different directions.