‘We’re Here to Help’: Harris Takes Over Delaware’s Small Business Administration – Bay to Bay News | Region & Cash

WILMINGTON — As the new chief of Small Business Administration in the First State, Michelle Harris wants to take the business-focused federal agency places she hasn’t been yet.

On February 16, the US Small Business Administration announced that Ms. Harris would lead the SBA’s Delaware office. In her new role, she will oversee the delivery of SBA programs and services to small businesses statewide.

As the new director of the Delaware Small Business Resource Agency, Ms. Harris said she wanted a look at “Where isn’t the SBA? Where are the small businesses that still need SBA support, and how can we reach them? “We’re here to help,” said Ms. Harris.

The SBA was formed to support and encourage American small business ownership.

“From the moment you have a thought about, ‘Oh, I might want to open a business,’ to the time it’s actually written and implemented, that’s what the SBA and our resource partners are here for – help develop that idea, help you create that business plan, help you identify the resources, and then connect with those who are buying what you want to sell — that market research.”

Ms. Harris brings 33 years of leadership and agency experience to her new role. Prior to joining SBA, she was the Regional Assistance Division Manager for the US Department of Transportation’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

Prior to that, she served as the SBA Lead Business Opportunity Specialist in the agency’s 8(a) Business Development Continuing Eligibility Office. In this role, Ms. Harris served as a technical resource for team members; a member of the executive team to centralize all reviews of SBA field offices at SBA headquarters; and helped develop policies and training for this then newly established office. She has also held a leadership role with the State of Delaware as executive director of the State of Delaware’s Office of Supplier Diversity.

She began her public service career in 1989 with the Internal Revenue Service.

“I was with them for about 20 years. I’ve worked up from one of the lowest grades you can get, GS2, and have moved up the line over the years,” said Ms. Harris.

Before leaving the IRS, she worked in the Office of Disaster Relief.

“I am pleased that Michelle Harris will lead SBA’s field operations in Delaware,” said John Fleming, Regional Administrator for Mid-Atlantic and former director of SBA Delaware. “Your leadership and experience will serve our First State small business community well.”

Ms. Harris hopes to be an example for others.

“From my own perspective, as a young woman here in this country and as a minority woman, I haven’t seen many images of me in senior positions,” she said. “I know people are watching me. In particular, other women are watching, and other women of color are also watching. I just want them to know… If I can make it here, anyone can make it here.”

The SBA helps businesses by sharing knowledge, connecting business owners to financing opportunities, and helping to cut red tape associated with government contracts.

The SBA Delaware office conducts regular training aimed at helping small businesses. Ms Harris said the Delaware office is taking an “innovative approach” to reaching small business owners. Many of the training courses are offered virtually to make them more accessible to business owners.

One way the local SBA office supports entrepreneurs is through targeted programs.

According to Ms. Harris, only 14% of global exporters are women-owned companies. To help, the SBA created the Women Go Global program, which teaches women-owned businesses how to bring their products and services to buyers in other countries.

The SBA also works with so-called “resource partners” such as the Small Business Development Centers and Women Business Centers.

An example of a Delaware success story is Dover-based Mountain Consulting.

Kim Adams started her business with her husband Troy and connected with the Small Business Administration by attending their many training programs.

“The SBA has been very helpful to my business by providing the steps and information needed to grow our business. We have attended many workshops to learn more about the certifications. You have made a significant contribution to the growth of our company. From these workshops we were certified as Woman Owned, HUBZone and 8(a). These certifications paved the way for winning contracts on these contract vehicles,” said Ms. Adams.

Ms Adams said entrepreneurs should turn to the SBA if they want to be successful.

“If you’re serious about growing your business, attend the workshops and learn how to do business with the government,” she said. “SBA offers many programs and products. Take the time to educate yourself.”

Ms. Harris was born in Philadelphia but now considers herself a Delawarean.

She moved to the First State in 1996 with her husband and son. She lives in Clayton with her husband. When she’s not working to support small businesses, Ms. Harris says she is an avid reader and she and her husband enjoy car trips.

More information on the programs offered by the Delaware District of the SBA can be found here.

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