Castle Phil, business time
Aikta Marcoulier worked for over 10 years running a center in Colorado Springs providing a range of small business services.
According to Marcoulier, it was a job that prepared her well for her latest efforts to help small businesses, but on a much larger scale.
President Joe Biden appointed Marcoulier in April as Region VIII administrator of the US Small Business Administration. She oversees federal agency programs and services in Colorado as well as Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
His new role is to support the Biden administration and help district SBA offices in his area achieve their goals. She also expects the job to involve extensive online meetings and extensive travel to connect with staff and business owners in a six-state region that spans more than 580,000 square miles, the most rural of all the SBA regions in the country.
At the same time, Marcoulier said one thing hasn’t changed, and that’s his goal to help small businesses succeed.
To that end, she said she’s excited about the resources the SBA offers, including financing assistance, government contracts, and disaster recovery.
She said she was particularly excited about an initiative to increase the share of federal contracts going to small businesses and strengthen domestic manufacturing and supply chains. Given the $1.2 trillion in funding included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, there are many additional opportunities for small businesses, she added.
Prior to her appointment, Marcoulier worked for more than 10 years as executive director of the Small Business Development Center in Colorado Springs.
A network of 14 full-time SBDCs and more than 50 part-time satellite offices are located throughout Colorado, including the Grand Valley.
The centers offer a range of services, including free and low-cost advice and instruction on all aspects of starting and growing a business.
In her more than 10 years as director, the Pikes Peak SBDC has twice received the SBA Region VIII Award for Excellence and Innovation. The 2014 award recognized efforts to help businesses recover from wildfires and floods.
Marcoulier received the Colorado State Star Award, the highest honor given to SBDC employees in the state.
In addition to his other duties, Marcoulier created and managed a cybersecurity program providing training and guidance to small businesses in Colorado.
Prior to joining the SBDC, Marcoulier worked as Director of Partnerships Marketing for Professional Bull Riders and before that as a Project Manager with the Native American Sport Council.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology from the University of Iowa. She then earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Marcoulier said she was thrilled to accept the appointment as SBA regional administrator as she continued her work helping small businesses. She works out of Denver, but oversees agency operations in a six-state region.
The SBA offers a variety of programs and services, including those involving loans, government contracts, and disaster relief. The SBA’s Colorado District Office supported a total of nearly $1.4 billion in loans in fiscal year 2021, or $34 million in Mesa County.
Small businesses in Colorado are recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, Marcoulier said. But challenges persist, she said, including labor shortages and supply chain issues. Inflation and the threat of a recession could alter spending in a way that would affect small businesses.
Marcoulier said the SBA’s efforts to increase the proportion of federal contracts going to small businesses could help, especially given the funding that will be spent under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. She encouraged small business owners to work with the SBA and procurement technical assistance centers to learn more about selling goods and services to federal, state and local governments.
Marcoulier said she loves her job at the Pikes Peak SBDC, but now looks forward to continuing that work on a larger scale as the SBA’s regional administrator.
For more information about the programs and services offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, visit the website at www.sba.gov.