SBDC Waiting To See How Budget Cuts Trickle Down

Now that President Barack Obama has announced the proposed budget for the 2012 fiscal year, lots of people and agencies are waiting to see how cuts actually turn out.

"This is a matter of everybody having a serious conversation about where we want to go and then ultimately getting in that boat at the same time so it doesn't tip over," President Obama said yesterday when presenting his proposed budget.

One of the agencies facing potential cuts is the Small Business Administration.  L.O.Nelson, Assistant Director of the Small Business Development Center in Wichita Falls, says that's normal.

"This is actually not that unusual.  Most every fiscal year when the budget is proposed, we do see cuts in the proposed budget," he said.

But what is a game changer is the fact the SBA is no longer receiving certain stimulus funding it got in 2010.  That means their requested $985 million for 2012 is a 45% drop from two years ago.  As of now, $10 million is slated to be cut from SBDCs nationwide.

"We're a little bit more nervous than usual because of those large [government] deficits that exist," Nelson said.

He says they've already given back 5% of their budget from state funding this year, and, depending on what lawmakers decide, might have to give back even more.

"We have no more fat to trim," Nelson said.

The next cut might have to be people, which Nelson really wants to avoid, because the SBDC is a really people intensive location.

"It will actually cause people to have to wait longer to get in the door, maybe weeks instead of days," he said.

Ann Marie Payne owns Mystic Floral, and has relied on the SBDC for help in many areas.

"There's been a lot of tough decisions I've had to make in the last couple of years and without them I don't think I could've made. I would've really just questioned my judgement. They've given me confidence and when you get discouraged the biggest thing is they keep you going," she said.

Nothing is for sure on the federal or state level yet.  Now it's a waiting game to see how the cuts trickle down.

"We won't know anything until the legislature session is over," Nelson said.

Currently the local SBDC has five employees and two student workers.  Nelson says the center has been thinking of ways to raise more funds itself so that it can be less reliant on the state and federal funding.

For an overview of the proposed 2012 budget's impact on the SBA, click here.