economy moving again. We’re still going to have to deal with health care, energy and education as long-term challenges to ensure economic growth. But we can get some important down payments on those critical areas if we pass this economic recovery plan which is my priority right now.
What do you tell our readers, many of whom are hurting and anxious? What should they do while they wait for all of these programs to roll out?
Don’t wait. People have to continue to innovate, look for new customers, try to find creative ways to turn crisis into opportunity, retool for the future. But I want them to know that help is on the way.
Small and minority business have always been engines of job creation and innovation. Related to the portion of the economic recovery package that focuses on state aid, how do you ensure minority businesses gain a portion of the contracts? What mechanism is going to be put in place to monitor how state aid is used?
Most states, if not all the states, have provisions in place to ensure minority, women and small businesses participation. We expect states to abide by their local rules. Obviously, federal rules are going to pertain as well when it comes to, for example, making federal buildings more energy efficient. Should that be part of the package, we’re going to be very clear about making sure that goals are set that ensure participation of every type of business imaginable.
You’ve mentioned an oversight board of Democrats and Republicans. Would that also include oversight of the business aspect of the state aid as well?
Yes. We want to make sure that we have an independent board that is providing transparency, accountability and oversight for this process before the money goes back out the door and while the money is being spent. We’re also going to set up a website called Recovery.gov that will provide people with means of accessing the White House to report back on how this money is being impacted in the community. People are going to be able to track who is getting the money, how it’s being spent and how many jobs are being created in particular communities around the country. We think it’s very important that this is a completely open process. This can lay the framework for how we proceed on a whole host of other projects in the future in a way that builds trust in our government.
Specifically, how would the Obama administration operate the SBA and Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) differently than previous administrations? And how would Treasury’s financial rescue proposal support those efforts?
I’ve committed to revamping the SBA. It’s become an afterthought agency. It has not been as focused as it needs to be on its mission which is helping small businesses grow and helping startups. We’ve got a terrific new director of the SBA who is going to be very aggressive in getting out of federal buildings and reaching out to the business community to figure out