January 2021 Advocacy News

January 12, 2021

At the Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC), we are looking forward. We are making plans to build on a number of significant victories secured by our government affairs team in Washington, on your behalf. Most importantly, AWBC again secured recorded funding for the Women’s Business Centers (WBC) program at the Small Business Administration (SBA), now at $23 million for FY21. These additional funds have most recently been used to award 20 new WBC grants. AWBC’s statement from Jan 4th can be found here.

In addition to the funding, the appropriations package included two other key AWBC priorities. Section 345 of the Act extends the waiver for Women’s Business Center matching funds, initially established in the CARES Act, until June 30, 2021.

Also, at our urging, Congress required the SBA to modify its existing budgeting process to reflect the enacted level for discretionary appropriations, which is often higher than the SBA’s proposal. This modification will hopefully ensure that the SBA will fully distribute the funds enacted by Congress.

 A final note on the appropriations package, the microloan and PRIME programs received significant funding that WBCs may want to consider:

  • SBA’s Microloan program is aimed to help small businesses in need of financing, business-based training, and technical assistance. The program provides loans and grants for eligible non-profit microlenders to provide small-scale loans to businesses with fewer than five employees. The recent legislation provides $35,000,000 to the Microloan technical assistance program in FY21 and increases the total loan limit for microloan intermediaries to enable loans to underserved borrowers. Read more hereto see if you are eligible.
  • The SBA also offers the Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs(PRIME), which is targeted for organizations that help “low-income entrepreneurs who lack sufficient training and education to gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses.” They received an increase in appropriations FY21 funding to $5,500,000. For additional eligibility information, click here.

WBC funding was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, enacted on December 27, 2020, which also included COVID items that can benefit women business owners: increased eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC).

The Act also extends the Small Business Debt Relief program, Section 1112 of the CARES Act, to provide support for relief payments of principal, interest, and associated fees on new and existing SBA 7(a), 504, and Microloan programs for eligible entities. Additional funding is also available for SBA loan products to increase guarantees on 7(a) loans and reduce fees on 7(a) and 504 loans, deliver loan subsidies for 7(a) loans, and provide Economic Injury Disaster Loan grant advances. Additional details on these provisions are in the attached presentation which can be used with your clients.

More information about AWBC’s plans for 2021 will be available after the AWBC Board convenes in February to affirm the 2021 AWBC Action Plan. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, in the mean time.


Corinne Hodges

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