HAUL, SBA administrator meet to strengthen local businesses
Judson Robinson III on right with Angelique Batholemew and Kristian Newman at a 2020 GHBC meeting. Photo by Aswad Walker.

Judson Robinson III, head of the Houston Area Urban League (HAUL), is meeting with the Reginal Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Ted James, on Tuesday, March 29 to shore up local businesses’ connections to vital business-strengthening programs and information. More specifically, the conversation will focus on HAUL’s participation in the SBA’s Navigator Program.

“We’re one of about 50 organizations that were selected nationwide to help increase the likelihood of small businesses getting and finding access to information that they need, programs that are available and just educated persons about ways in which to make sure that they’re ready for the next need for PPP loans or making sure their back office is in place, and all the programs that might be available to help them so again, they know about the programs that the SBA offers, which is a variety of them, and also their local contacts might be, including HAUL, to act again as a navigator,” said Robinson.

“We’ve had this process of connecting people to resources for a number of years. We do it in areas of education and areas of health. So, it just made sense for the SBA to have something like this to make sure that they’re being very proactive in terms of finding ways to reach small businesses.”

James, who will be joined by Houston Deputy District Director Mark Winchester, will also meet with business leaders at the Metro and Port Houston Banker’s Fair (HCC West Loop Campus, 5601 W. Loop S) at 9a.m., before meeting with HAUL later that afternoon.

“We have a fantastic small business program ourselves with the Entrepreneurship Center. Many graduates have already gone through that program. Those folks go in, in a cohort. They come out eight to 10 weeks later and they’ve gotten a lot of questions answered about how to build a business plan to make sure that two-to-five years from now, they’re still in business,” said Robinson, who noted that most Black businesses are sole proprietorships that can benefit from SBA programs and from HAUL’s services as an SBA Navigator.

“We need to grow [those sole proprietorships]. We need to make sure that they’re hiring employees and that they are becoming an LLC and they are incorporating and beginning to grow and sustain, and hopefully live to sell their business one day.”

James was appointed in December by President Joe Biden to serve as the SBA’s Administrator for Region 6, the nation’s south-central region. As Regional Administrator for Region VI, James’ responsibility is overseeing the administration of SBA services across ten offices, six located in Texas and others in Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, as well as promoting the President’s and SBA Administrator’s policies, messages, and priorities throughout the region.