‘Made in America’ Heats Up


Yolanda Garcia Olivarez

Yolanda Garcia Olivarez, SBA Region VI Administrator

Joseph Armijo has consistently created jobs: his business added 12 employees over the past 10 years – about one a year. ButArmijo’s Albuquerque-based company, Four Winds Mechanical HTC/AC, may soon accelerate its rate of hiring. With help from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA),Armijonow has the resources to bid on large contracts that, if awarded, will allow him to quickly hire up to five additional employees. Four Winds Mechanical provides plumbing, fuel (gas) process piping, sheet metal work, and heating and air conditioning services, including equipment repairs.

Armijoworked with banker Dodie Knight of Western Commerce Bank and received a loan in February 2009 for $260,000. The loan, which utilized the SBA 7(a) Guaranteed Loan Program made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), saved Armijo $5,850 in loan fees. Armijoused the loan to refinance commercial real estate, buy out both of his brothers’ interests in the company, and have working capital available.  In December 2010,Armijoobtained additional financing, utilizing the SBA Patriot Express Loan, so he could bid on bigger jobs. This time he saved $1,700 in loan fees because of ARRA.

Last year, the SBA helped put over $2 billion in financing into the hands of small manufacturers.   Through the Small Business Jobs Act, the amount the SBA can lend to small manufacturers was permanently raised from $4 million to $5.5 million, the highest SBA loan limit ever.  The SBA New Mexico District Office alone has guaranteed $5,195,000 in gross 7(a) and 504 loan dollars over the last 10 months, with 21 loans being made to manufacturers.

That is good news because small manufacturers need new facilities, equipment and, most importantly, workers to meet the increased demand they’re seeing.

New data show that the trade deficit has shrunk and U.S.exports reached record levels – $175 billion – in April, 2011.  Exports now account for about 25 percent of U.S.manufacturing jobs.  We need to capitalize on that trend by giving small manufacturers even more tools, such as the free new resources that can be found at www.sba.gov/exportbusinessplanner.

We also need to find the specific areas of manufacturing that show the most promise.  For example, President Obama is focused on creating a 21st Century manufacturing workforce.  Right now there is a mismatch; there are many job openings in the manufacturing sector, but there are too few Americans trained to do the specific tasks.  That is why the President has asked manufacturers and local community colleges to create a credentialing system that will put 500,000 students on a clear and direct track to good manufacturing jobs when they graduate.

In addition, the President’s Jobs and Competitiveness Council, chaired by Jeff Immelt of General Electric, just announced an effort to train 10,000 new American engineers each year so that we can keep good jobs right here in the U.S.

A recent study showed that when a small supplier starts working with a larger company, the small supplier is able to create about 150 percent more jobs in just a few years.  That is data we cannot ignore, and it is a big reason that the Jobs Council and the SBA are working together to find more ways to support these job generators.

For information about SBA programs, visit the SBA website.

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