February 6, 2014
By Bob Coleman
Editor, Coleman Report
Industry Mourns Passing of SBA Legislative Giant, Tom Powers
By Jim Baird
Past Chair, NADCO
Tom came to Washington in 1971 after receiving law degrees from both Drake and New York University. He began his career working for Neal Smith of Iowa, who was at that time the Chair of the House Small Business Committee. Over a 27 year tenure with the House Small Business Committee, he worked with no fewer than 8 different Committee Chairs, much of that time serving as the Chief Counsel to the Committee. Tom retired from the Committee in 1998 and began a consulting practice, doing critical legislative work for both NADCO and NAGGL over the next 16 years.
Tom was unequalled in his knowledge of small business and SBA statutes. Over his 43 year career he knew more about laws governing SBA than anyone in the country, and in fact, had written most of them. The list of his legislative accomplishments for the CDC program runs from the 1980 creation of the 503 loan program, to its 1986 privatization as the 504 program, right up the writing the SBA portion of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the introduction of 504 refinancing. And his work touched every corner of the SBA, from 7a, SBDCs, SBIR, SBICs, etc., etc. Over his career Tom received many awards including a Special Advocacy Award from SBA in 1998, and he was inducted into the NADCO Hall of Fame in that same year.
But to those of us who knew him and worked with him, there was so much more. We remember in our much younger days marching up to his Rayburn building office next to the HSBC hearing room and sitting in what seemed to be very tiny chairs across the massive desk and the large man behind it, his booming voice asking us to give better reasons for this or that legislative change we were seeking. We measured the success of those meetings, not only for what was accomplished, but mostly for surviving them at all.
Those of us who knew him well can all recall times spent after a long day, with a beverage or two telling war stories and once in a while hearing of some special bill language no one noticed, or some secret victory for small business that Tom had engineered, and we would see the flash of a smile and the twinkle in his eye and we would better understand this great man and his deep personal passion for the rights and opportunity of small businesses everywhere.
Upon his retirement from the Committee in 1998, former HSBC Chairman John LaFalce said “Tom’s encyclopedic knowledge of small business issues and of Small Business Administration programs and legislation is legendary. It is hard to overstate the influence Tom Powers has had on small business legislation and policy during his long tenure here. It is also hard to imagine the Small Business Committee without him.”
Chairman LaFalce was certainly right about that, and for those of us who knew, worked and played with Tom, it is also so very hard to imagine a world without him.
Come to Washington DC to lend your support to NADCO’s Small Business Lending & Investment Summit on March 5.
Small business lending is directly correlated to job creation. The Small Business Lending & Investment Summit focuses attention on available solutions by the financial services industry, the Small Business Administration, stakeholders and business leaders to address market failures and accelerate the economic recovery.
“We are excited to have a very experienced banker join our team as we maintain our efforts to position FirstAtlantic Bank for continued growth in 2014,” said Mitch Hunt, President and CEO of FirstAtlantic Bank. “Evan will be a knowledgeable resource for our small business customers as we expand our presence into Gainesville and the surrounding areas”.
Pitts has more than 18 years of experience in the financial industry, most recently servicing small business and commercial clients in the Gainesville market for the past eight years as a vice president with Alarion Bank.
Upcoming Small Business Lending Conferences
2014 Southeastern Small Business Lenders Conference, Reynolds Plantation, February 9-11
ICBA 2014 National Convention, Honolulu, March 2-6
NADCO Government Relations Conference 2014, Washington D.C., March 3-5
WPASGL Annual Quality Lender’s Conference, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, March 12
Franchise Times Franchise Finance & Growth Conference, Las Vegas, March 26-27
NADCO 2014 Annual Meeting, Colorado Springs, April 30 – May 3
NAGGL 2014 SBA Lending Technical Conference, Bonita Springs, May 6-8
NAGGL 2014 Annual Meeting, Huntington Beach October 28-30
Coleman’s 7th Annual SBA Secondary Market Forum, Washington D.C. December 2
Coleman’s 15th Annual Rural Lender’s Roundtable, Washington D.C. December 3