Entrepreneur.com, By: David Port

Talk to people inside the SBA and they'll say the agency is poised to emerge from several trying years of restructuring a stronger, business-friendlier organization.

The last two years have been a time of aggressive reform to make the SBA easier to work with, easier to get information from, says Sean Rushton, the agencys head of communications. Now we are actually beginning to see measurable results from those changes.

Then there are SBA critics like Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who, as chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, contends the agency, under President George W. Bush, has lost its relevance as a small business ally.

Because of insufficient funding and little oversight, the SBA has failed small businesses time and time again, Kerry says. While the Bush administration touts itself as pro-business, theyve used their final year in office to put forth a [2009] budget that would cut the SBAs funding by nearly 30 percent from when they took control, raised the fee on its largest loan program, and are doing little to help underserved entrepreneurs in the midst of a nationwide economic crisis.

To say SBA programs are embattled is an understatement. No federal agency has endured deeper budget cuts under Bushs watch, Kerry says.

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