Word is getting around about pending reforms that would make federal support for small businesses more widely available to entrepreneurs with a criminal history. Notably, the U.S. Small Business Administration has recently taken steps to reduce or remove entirely criminal record-related restrictions in its loan and contracting programs. These are steps that CCRC has been urging ever since the SBA’s restrictive policies first came to public attention during the pandemic.
An article by Michael Friedrich published today by Arnold Ventures (AV) describes a number of reforms recently proposed or adopted by the SBA that will eliminate arbitrary program barriers based on criminal history that are unrelated to any established risk. These reforms should encourage more justice-affected business owners to seek SBA support for their entrepreneurial ventures in the form of federally guaranteed loans or federal contract set-asides for “socially and economically disadvantaged” businesses.
The AV article points out that the near-exclusion from these programs based on criminal history “frustrate[s] federal efforts to contribute to economic development in disadvantaged communities, often the same low-income communities of color that have suffered the most during the era of mass incarceration and tough-on-crime policies.”