Thinking Small: The Big Deal With Small Business

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John Mallano

A lot of people mean business, but John Mallano really means it. A Hauppauge resident, he is deputy director of the New York District Office for the United States Small Business Administration as well as acting as Long Island branch manager. His territory includes Long Island, New York City and the lower Mid-Hudson Valley, the largest district office in the nation. The district oversees the delivery and efficiency of SBA programs and servicing to 1.6 million small businesses. Total payrolls exceed $330 billion and the district employs 5 million people.

Can you tell me what the Small Business Administration is and what it does even for people who think they may know?

The biggest function of the SBA is to get funding to businesses that would not normally be able to get funding, because of the criteria banks have. Some banks may need collateral for a small-business loan. They can get a guarantee from the SBA and make the loan to small businesses. That’s one of the primary things the SBA does.

What are some other things?

We provide government contracting to small businesses. Small businesses can bid on federal contracts. We help small businesses trying to bid on those contracts. We have programs for the underserved markets. We put them in our 8(a) program. We give the opportunity for underserved markets to bid and have a greater advantage of getting contracts. If you’re a disabled veteran, there are set-asides that only they can bid on. African American, Latino, any minority, we try to provide assistance — women-owned small businesses as well.

Can you tell me the role the Small Business Administration played during the pandemic?

We played a very big part in the pandemic. We initially started out with the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP. That let employers pay employee salaries while they were shut down. These were forgivable loans. If they used the money with the SBA guidelines, they would get those loans forgiven.

What other pandemic programs did you have?

After the PPP loan, we had the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program or EIDL. That provided long-term financing to businesses at a low interest rate to help them get back on their feet.

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Small Business Saturday (sba.gov)

What are you doing now and what are the big programs?

The pandemic is over, so we don’t have any pandemic programs. We’re going back to our traditional loans, such as the 7(a), which gives loans with up to an 85 percent guarantee to banks to lend money to small businesses. Our new program to help underserved or minority-owned businesses is called the Community Advantage Loan. They relate to nontraditional lenders that are not banks, such as community-based lenders, including not-for-profits that lend money to small businesses. This allows them to get the same guarantee that banks would.

Can you tell me about the Small Business Administration on Long Island?

We have a branch office in Hauppauge, but we provide services through our resource partners. We have two resource partners on Long Island that are Small Business Development Centers, at Stony Brook University and Farmingdale State College. They provide free services to start-ups and existing small businesses.

Do you and how do you help people starting up companies?

We help through our resource partners, small business development centers, and through SCORE. We fund the small-business development centers, SCORE, the women’s business centers, and the veterans business outreach centers or VBOC.

Can you tell me a business success story on Long Island?

A company called Florian Food Service Inc. has been in business for over 30 years. During the pandemic, they went from 150 employees to 40. A lot of the businesses they serve had decreasing demand. They visited the Small Business Development Center at Stony Brook and got a $10,000 EIDL grant and a first and second draw PPP loans of about $950,000 in PPP funding. That was forgiven and allowed them to pay their employees. And they’re starting to grow again. They were able to save over 100 jobs on Long Island.

What’s the best way to get SBA servicing?

There is plenty of information on sba.gov or you can make an appointment with our free counselors at our small-business development centers. 

Do you offer awards and how can companies qualify?

The first week in May is Small Business Week. You can nominate a small business or yourself for small-business awards we have at sba.gov. It gives businesses a little more publicity and recognition for achievements as a small business. They can compete to be a national small-business award winner.