Small Business

  Small businesses can now qualify for up to $5 million in U.S. Small Business Administration-backed surety bonds for construction and service contracts. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) increased the limit from $2 million for SBA surety bond guarantees.


The SBA’s Surety Bond Guarantee Program guarantees bid, payment and performance bonds. The bonds protect project owners against financial loss if contractors default or fail to perform. The program is a partnership with the surety industry to aid small businesses that would otherwise be unable to obtain surety bonds in the traditional commercial market. The SBA guarantees between 70% and 90% of the bond amount issued by the participating surety companies.


The SBA said another pending change authorized by the Recovery Act allows the agency to guarantee sureties of up to $10 million on a federal contract following certification by the contracting officer that the bond guarantee is required. For more information on small business provisions in the Recovery Act and how the SBA is implementing those provisions, go to



  Karen Gordon Mills became the SBA administrator after the Senate unanimously approved her appointment on April 1. Mills, of Brunswick, Maine, was president of MMP Group Inc. She has 25 years of experience investing in and growing small businesses. In 2007, Maine Gov. John Baldacci appointed her chair of the state’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy, where she concentrated on attracting investment in rural and regional development initiatives.


She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a former vice chairman of Harvard Overseers. She has an economics degree from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar.



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