SBA South Central Regional Administrator Crossie On Trump, Scalise, Small Biz
Justin Crossie was working for Republican Congressman Steve Scalise when the then U.S. House Majority Whip was shot in the hip by left-wing activist James Hodgkinson on June 14, 2017, in Virginia, at a baseball practice for the Congressional Baseball Game.
Crossie said the decade he spent working with Scalise was a professional highlight, and that watching Scalise recover from his critical wounds was nothing short of a miracle.
In November 2018, President Donald Trump and former Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Linda McMahon appointed Crossie as the SBA Regional Administrator for Region VI, serving Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
Scalise said, “For 10 years, Justin has proven himself to be a dedicated and invaluable member of our team. As regional director of ‘Team Scalise,’ Justin worked closely with Louisiana entrepreneurs to help our state’s small businesses grow and thrive, and this experience will serve him well as he joins President Trump’s Small Business Administration.”
Crossie is now based out of the SBA’s district office in New Orleans, at 365 Canal St., and is a resource for more than 3.8 million small businesses in the South Central Region.
He said there is no better time for local small business owners and entrepreneurs to reach out to the SBA for help to start-up, grow and expand.
Leslie Snadowsky: Why is now a great time to contact the SBA for help with funding programs, counseling services, government contracting and export initiatives?
Justin Crossie: SBA has made great strides to improve our tools, resources and access to capital for America’s 30 million small businesses, which include the 447,440 small businesses in Louisiana.
We are continuing to modernize and streamline our programs, and we are revamping our website to be more user-friendly. It is crucial that SBA continue to innovate in order to keep up with an increasingly online environment.
SBA’s 7(a) and 504 loan programs have never been more dynamic and easier to use. Applications for these funding programs are now done entirely electronically.
On our website, entrepreneurs have access to a thorough Business Guide, information on all of our funding programs including disaster assistance, a guide to federal contracting, access to our resource partners for local classes and online counseling and a wealth of business courses through our online Learning Resource Center.
L.S.: As the Region VI Regional Administrator for the U.S. SBA that serves Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, how is Louisiana positioned for growth in your district over the other states?
J.C.: The Louisiana District Office has one of the best success rates for small business development under our certified contracting programs of any SBA district in the country, with an over 90 percent success rate for companies graduating from our socially and economically disadvantaged business development program.
Participation rates and contracting dollars allocated to businesses in all SBA certified programs are well above the national average. Contracting dollars in Louisiana, so far this fiscal year, exceed half a billion dollars and is first in all mid-size markets in the region, and only slightly behind two large markets in Houston and San Antonio.
The Louisiana SBA office has leveraged this strength in partnership with Louisiana Economic Development (LED) to increase opportunities for small businesses with a focused effort to encourage small business to large business contracting opportunities outside of government contracting.
L.S.: Tell us about your rural and veteran outreach to empower small business owners and entrepreneurs?
J.C.: We believe you shouldn’t have to live in a big city to have world-class resources, good jobs and sustainable communities. SBA has joined with USDA to make sure there are economic opportunities for rural entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses. We are already seeing success in reaching rural entrepreneurs. SBA’s Office of Advocacy has appointed a national rural advocate to help voice the small business concerns of rural America before the White House, federal agencies and Congress.
At SBA we know that government efforts are critical to the successful transition process for service members exiting the military and considering entrepreneurship as their next move. SBA provides funding, training and contracting assistance for service-disabled veterans. Our Boots to Business Program is the perfect start for any military member considering entrepreneurship after service.
The President showed his dedication to small businesses and veterans with the donation of his second-quarter salary to SBA to assist with developing and launching a pilot for a seven-month intensive entrepreneur training program for veterans.
Collectively veteran-owned businesses employ five million workers and generate $1.1 trillion in receipts.
L.S.: You’re in contact with more than 3.8 million small businesses in the South Central Region. What successful business trends are you seeing?
J.C.: Across the Region, in Fiscal Year 2018, we see the largest industries for SBA loan approvals are Accommodation and Food Services; Retail Trade; Other Services (except Public Administration); and Health Care and Social Assistance.
Comparing Fiscal Year 2018 with 2017, the following industries showed the most growth in the number of SBA loan approvals in the Region: Transportation and Warehousing; Arts, Entertainment and Recreation; Agriculture; Forestry; Fishing and Hunting; and Utilities.
Last year, the SBA office in Louisiana had a record-breaking year in guaranteed lending with almost $350 million in SBA loans made in the state. So far this year loan totals are overall down, but this matches a national trend in lower dollars lent with SBA support based in large part on a stronger economy. However, a noteworthy trend in Louisiana is the dramatic increase in manufacturing and wholesale lending through the state ports, indicating that foreign trade and manufacturing are returning to the state.
L.S.: How is the SBA trying to support these successful trends?
J.C.: Technological advancements at SBA have vastly improved our turn-times for SBA loan approvals. For example, Small Loan turn-times, which are loans of less than $350,000, are now being processed within two days, down from six days last year. 7(a) Regular Loans, which are loans of $350,000 and over, have also drastically improved their turn-times from an average of 15 days to eight days, a 46 percent gain in efficiency year over year.
We are also listening to our customers as we continue to enhance our Lender Match Tool for small business borrowers, which has been an incredible success and serves as a perfect example of how the government can use technology to improve our products.
Lender Match is a free online referral tool that connects small businesses with participating SBA-approved lenders. The online tool matches borrowers anywhere with potential lenders by your industry type, age of business, location and financial need. In as little as five minutes, you can answer a few questions about your business and funding needs and get matched to a lender. If interested, lenders will contact you within two days.
As of March 11, Lender Match has produced over four million email leads for small business borrowers in search of financing assistance. These leads have resulted in 185,206 small business borrowers receiving a “lending match” with an approved SBA lender.
L.S.: You’re an appointee of President Trump. Can you tell us what it’s like working for Trump and more about his support for small business?
J.C.: President Trump, like the SBA, is a strong advocate and ally of small businesses.
His Administration’s policies continue to fuel an incredible economic boom in America, generating more jobs, higher wages and lower unemployment. The unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent in April, the lowest rate since December 1969 and more than 5.8 million jobs have been created since President Trump’s election in November 2016.
Over the past year, we have averaged 218,000 new jobs created every month; since the election, the economy has added 669,000 construction jobs and 497,000 manufacturing jobs; the unemployment rate for women is at its lowest since 1953; and veterans’ unemployment rate fell to 2.3 percent, the lowest rate on record.
The economy is paying off for all American workers. Last year, hourly wage growth exceeded 3 percent for the first time in almost 10 years.
Businesses are benefiting from the President’s tax cut plan as well as deregulation efforts.
Many small businesses are optimistic about the long-term economic outlook and are planning to hire more workers, buy needed equipment and expand their market footprint.
L.S.: And I wanted to ask one non-SBA question… You worked in Louisiana for 10 years as the Regional Director for Congressman Steve Scalise. Tell us about that experience and what it was like watching Scalise recover after being shot at a baseball practice for the Congressional Baseball Game on June 14, 2017, in Virginia.
J.C.: My time on ‘Team Scalise’ has been the highlight of my professional career. The friendships I made in the office are as close as I will ever get to the friendships I built while I was in the Marine Corps.
We were ‘Team Scalise.’ Steve was more than my boss. I had worked for him for close to a decade, and in that time he had become family.
Being in Washington D.C. that morning and hearing on the news that the Republican baseball team had been attacked at practice, then to learn Steve had been shot, was just surreal.
Watching Steve’s recovery was like watching a miracle unfold before your eyes. His recovery has strengthened my faith in God and made me more appreciative of the little things in life. I try not to stress over things that are beyond my control. The odds were not in his favor that day. Through God’s grace, the prayers of a Nation, Steve’s deep unwavering faith and the hands of so many skilled professionals he has survived and is making an incredible recovery.
If you have ever met Steve, you probably have heard that one-of-a-kind laugh. It’s unmistakable. The first time I went to see Steve after his discharge from the hospital I heard that laugh coming from his office long before I ever laid eyes on him. Instantly I could feel a huge smile on my face and a few tears in my eyes.
I knew that Steve was back and that he was going to be OK.