The Trump Administration is intent on doing more to help ensure that small businesses in rural Utah get as much help from the federal government as their counterparts in Salt Lake City.
That was the main message being delivered Thursday and Friday by two new Trump-appointed officials overseeing U.S. Small Business Administration operations in Utah — Daniel Nordberg, a former Colorado legislator who just became the administrator over SBA’s Region 8, which includes Utah and five other states; and Marla Trollan, who became the federal agency’s Utah district director in November.
Nordberg’s arrival coincided with Friday being “Rural Day on the Hill” at the state Capitol. Representatives from Utah’s 25 rural counties were on hand to discuss Gov. Gary Herbert’s program to create 25,000 jobs in rural communities and “other economic challenges, successes and opportunities in rural Utah.”
Who are they?
• Nordberg was appointed to the SBA position after being elected to three terms in the Colorado House, representing suburbs of Colorado Springs and serving as the ranking member of the House Business Affairs and Labor committee since 2015. In private life, he was a business development specialist at a resort hotel in Colorado Springs and worked previously for a Colorado congressman, Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, as a liaison to the state’s business community as well as federal and state agencies.
• Trollan has a background in communications, outreach and partnerships after having worked for multiple federal agencies. She came to the SBA from the U.S. Forest Service, where she was director of strategic communications for the Intermountain Region Office in Ogden.
What are they saying?
Nordberg’s region is the most rural in the country, covering 500,000 square miles in Colorado, North Dakota and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Utah.
“My real focus is something that’s hit Utah and the whole Rocky Mountain West — the divide between rural and urban centers,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune. “We want to make sure the business owner in Cedar City has the same access to resources that the small business owner in Salt Lake City does.”
He called his trip to Utah “a listening tour,” recognizing that different rural areas have different challenges. “We need to listen and tailor our programs to come alongside those communities and their needs.”
Trollan said she is working to expand business opportunities for women. She is hopeful that SBA will get funding to open a Women’s Business Center in Cedar City, much like the center operated by the Salt Lake Chamber with SBA financial assistance.
Who did Nordberg meet?
The new director had a full itinerary, meeting with SBA staff members and officials from the Women’s Business Center, the Small Business Development Center at Salt Lake Community College and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
He also met with Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and members of Utah’s congressional delegation.
What’s SBA been up to?
The agency set an all-time record in 2017 by approving 1,288 loans to small businesses worth $597 million. That topped the previous record by $20 million, Trollan said.
Through all of its programs, she added, the SBA generated more than $1 billion in economic impact last year, creating about 1,300 new jobs.
The office also approved 19 international trade loans that provided $25.7 million to help Utah exporters, provided 470 hours of training to more than 4,000 people through the Women’s Business Center and helped 258 startup businesses create 1,500 jobs through the Small Business Development Center.