Vercie Lark has big plans for Region 7 Small Businesses – St. Louis American | Region & Cash

President Joe Biden named Vercie Lark the new Administrator of Small Business Administration Region 7 in February, overseeing SBA programs and services in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.

“My primary goal for the SBA in the Great Plains Region 7 states is to improve access to capital for micro and small business owners in inner city, rural communities, small towns and farmers,” Lark said The St. Louis American.

“There are specific programs and changes to programs that the SBA has made to support this goal.”

The SBA offers microloans of up to $50,000, and SBA Community Advantage loans were recently increased from $250,000 to $350,000 to provide more capital to eligible small business owners, Lark said.

In addition, the procurement targets set for federal agencies have been raised to 15% for small/disadvantaged businesses by 2026, “which will add billions of dollars in future revenue growth opportunities to business owners who choose to be suppliers of goods and services to the federal government.” said Lark.

“I want to build on the new connections we’ve made during the pandemic and use them to educate and fund the dreams of many more emerging and existing small business owners in communities in our area.”

Lark recently retired from DST Systems in Kansas City, where he served as Executive Vice President and Head of US Financial Services. He ran a multi-billion dollar business serving the finance, banking, brokerage and retirement investing industries.

SBA celebrated Women’s History Month last month, and Lark said SBA has expanded its Women’s Business Centers to more than 150 across the country to provide the fastest-growing small business segment with greater access to training, mentoring and advice.

The SBA also launched “one of the most significant achievements of 2021, the historic $100 million Community Navigator pilot program.”

“This initiative from the Biden-Harris administration uses a hyper-local, hub-and-spoke approach to extend the reach of timely, accessible, and culturally relevant resources to small businesses. The two-year pilot program is designed to provide more SBA-expert resources at hundreds of new on-site locations to better serve small business owners in small town, rural and underserved communities.

Jefferson County Community Action Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving those in need and raising awareness of the challenges of living in poverty, has been named a HUB organization in the state of Missouri.

“Owners don’t need to spend a lot of money on training when there is already free, quality training, advice and mentoring available through the SBA’s small business network,” Lark said.

“SBA continues to provide free, low-cost business training and technical assistance through SCORE, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) and our regional Veteran’s Business Center in St. Louis, which serves the entire region.

“Nationally, they provided support that enabled small businesses to access more than $44.8 billion in capital injections, launch over 26,000 new businesses and create and sustain more than 2,100,000 jobs in the past fiscal year.

Lark said he’s heard from business owners and entrepreneurs who have benefited from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, Paycheck Protection Program, COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Shuttered Venue Operators Grants.

“Many of them credit these programs with saving their companies. There’s more to do,” Lark said.

“Thanks to President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Made in America’s priorities, more small business opportunities will emerge. The SBA and our local partners will continue to work to ensure our smallest businesses benefit

“I would be remiss if I didn’t extend my thanks and gratitude to the people of SBA who have given so much of their lives to save and restore thousands of businesses and millions of livelihoods for our fellow Americans during the pandemic. “

The SBA has been “transformative for small businesses during the pandemic, providing over $450 billion in critical recovery financing to more than 6 million entrepreneurs,” he said.

“The staff at SBA remains committed to ensuring small businesses are given every small business opportunity because it is key to keeping America’s small business resilient in 2022.”

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