By JUDY K. MCCAULEY

CLARKSBURG -- On Sept. 27, President Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act, the most significant piece of small business legislation in over a decade.

The law provides entrepreneurs and small business owners with greater access to capital and more tax relief so they can grow and create the jobs America needs.

First, because too many small businesses were still having trouble finding credit, the Jobs Act extends two successful enhancements first made under the Recovery Act to SBA loans: waived fees for borrowers and increased guarantees for our lending partners. These enhancements dramatically increased SBA loan volume at a time when credit was frozen by turning just $680 million in taxpayer dollars into nearly $30 billion in lending support to nearly 70,000 small businesses. The Jobs Act will support an estimated $14 billion in loans to small businesses.

Second, the law also permanently increases the maximum size in SBA's top two loan programs -– 7(a) and 504 -– from $2 million to $5 million, and increases microloans from $35,000 to $50,000. On a temporary basis, the law will increase the maximum size of our quick-turnaround Express loans to $1 million, and also allow some small businesses to refinance their commercial real estate into our 504 program. A new Small Business Lending Fund -– administered by the Treasury Department –- will provide community banks with the capital they need (up to $30 billion overall) to increase lending to small businesses beyond their 2009 levels.

Third, one of the major benefits for small businesses in the Jobs Act is eight new tax cuts totaling $12 billion, including higher deductions for investing in new machines and equipment; zero capital gains for those who buy and hold small business stocks for five years; and a doubling of the maximum deduction for startups to $10,000. It also allows self-employed Americans to completely deduct health insurance costs for themselves and their families.

Fourth and finally, beyond the tax relief and increased access to capital, the Jobs Act has a number of additional benefits in key areas that help catalyze small business growth. The Jobs Act provides a better playing field for small businesses interested in doing contracting with the federal government; gives agency procurement officers more ability to provide contracts to small business while also making it harder for agencies to engage in contract "bundling" which often takes opportunities away from small firms; and recognizing that 96 percent of the world's consumers live outside the U.S., the Jobs Act provides more tools to help small businesses tap into export markets, increasing the maximum size of SBA's export loans and expanding the counseling resources available to small businesses to start or grow their exports.

For more information about the new Small Business Jobs Act, go to www.sba.gov/jobsact or contact the West Virginia District Office at (800) 767-8052 ext. 8. SBA is working hard to put these new tools and resources into the hands of America's small businesses so they can grow, create jobs, and continue to lead our economic recovery.

McCauley is director of the U.S. Small Business Administration's West Virginia District Office in Clarksburg. For additional information on SBA, visit www.sba.gov/wv.

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