SBA Head Sees Businesses Held Back by Lack of Loans, Workers

Six months into her tenure as head of the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon sees a split among small business owners -- they are increasingly optimistic, she says, but many are held back by their inability to get loans or find the right workers for jobs that are staying open.

"Entrepreneurs are willing again to be bigger risk-takers than they have been over the past eight years," McMahon [pictured above} said in a phone interview this week with The Associated Press. But, she said, there are also lingering effects of the Great Recession, and "I think there is still a caution."

McMahon's observations matched owners' self-assessments in surveys including ones released by Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management and Dun & Bradstreet Corp. and by the National Federation of Independent Business. She also named some of the stumbling blocks that many owners have cited in addition to a scarcity of loans and workers: regulations, taxes and the cost of health care, all issues President Donald Trump has pledged to address.

McMahon has spent the past six months traveling around the country, meeting owners at their companies and events like forums and roundtables. She came to the SBA after being a big donor to the Republican Party and two unsuccessful runs for the Senate from Connecticut. She has a background in business; she and her husband, Vince, founded and built World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., now a publicly traded sports entertainment company. She resigned as CEO in 2009 and last year co-founded Women's Leadership LIVE, which promotes opportunities for women in business and public service.

What's Holding Up Hiring?

Although small businesses are hiring more now than during the recession, many are conservative, not wanting to add staffers unless they have enough new business to justify expanding their payrolls.

But some owners want to hire, and...

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