Armstrong presents Small Business Administration program to Rotary

The Tuesday Marshalltown Rotary meeting held at Elmwood Country Club opened with the Marshalltown Men’s Chorus performing a birthday selection for Karn Gregoire. A prayer was offered and Pledge of Allegiance led by Nancy Steveson. Dan Vellinga then announced the month’s birthday and anniversaries of membership which included 45 years for George Taylor. A second round of birthday wishes was expressed with the accompaniment of Arlene Selby. Katie Hibbs and Curt Hoff both introduced guests. High School Principal Jacque Wyant introduced student Rotarian Hannah Shirar who shared a bit about her school and community activities and future plans. The group was impressed with Shirar’s attendance as it was spring break week, and is looking forward to hearing from the balance of the month’s student Rotarians next week.

Bonnie Lowry then presided over the induction of the club’s newest member, Dylan Does. Does, proposed by Bettie Bolar, is the new director of the Marshalltown Community Foundation. Lowry gave a brief history of the 100-year plus club in Marshalltown. As the 185 club chartered in the United States, the Marshalltown club was formed at the grass roots level. Lowery told Does that membership will allow him to do good locally and throughout the world. “Let the Rotary four-way test guide you in what you think, say and do” encouraged Lowery.

David Barajas then introduced Jayne Armstrong with the Small Business Administration. Armstrong grew up in Pittsburgh and is a graduate of West Virginia University. She has spent most of her career in West Virginia and Delaware before coming to Iowa two years ago to oversee the SBA operations in the state. A 29-year Rotarian, Armstrong says she has been utilizing her Rotary membership to build contacts throughout the state. The SBA provides financing, counseling and government contracting programs in partnership with local lenders and other resource partners. One of the focuses of its field offices is marketing and outreach to the small business community, partners and lenders to help small businesses start, build and grow their businesses. In an attempt to put a face on the SBA, Armstrong pointed out that every large corporation got its start as a small business. She then shared some of the more prominent examples.

Small business is the heart and soul of Iowa’s economy. “We help these entrepreneurs get started and then get out of the way,” said Armstrong. The SBA doesn’t provide capital, but rather helps with guarantees. She noted that there is a new administrator of the Administration and she has studied her interesting story. Loan fees of two to three percent help make the programs self-sustaining and not be at the mercy of a congressional budget.

Armstrong noted the importance of the venture capital and R & D programs and described the mobile disaster teams that reach and coordinate recovery efforts.

The visibility of the Iowa SBA office is definitely a priority. Armstrong made it clear that the SBA is working for small business and is reaching out beyond banks. She also noted that succession planning for small business is near crisis levels across the state. She also pointed out that while franchise laws in Iowa have historically been restrictive, they have been relaxed in the last couple of years. The motto, “Service Above Self,” exemplifies the humanitarian spirit of the 1.2 million men and women of Rotary worldwide.