It’s been a great honor and privilege serving Montana’s small business community over the last year as the SBA’s Region VIII Administrator. I take pride in the fact that I have traveled more than 10,000 miles visiting small businesses and community leaders in my six state region, which includes Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
The last 12 months have gone by fast, and I am extremely proud of the accomplishments we were able to achieve on behalf of the more than one million entrepreneurs in this six state region. It was an unbelievable ride, and I am glad I was able to spend it working with the great staff at the U.S. Small Business Administration. I was looking at my past calendar and realize I have participated in nearly 300 events - including more than 40 major speeches/presentations, over 40 media interviews, and nearly 220 outreach meetings.
Having run two small businesses of my own, and representing Colorado’s 4th Congressional District in 2008, I know the critical importance of a strong economy to the well-being of families. From day one on the job, I worked hard to advocate for policies that promote small business growth and help create the family-supporting jobs our middle class needs.
One of my first goals was to promote and support underserved small business communities, including women, veterans, rural areas, and minorities. I knew that the best way to champion these groups was to work at the grass roots level where I could have the largest impact. We were the first region in the country to host a Native American summit that focused on ways the SBA can work within Indian Country to better support their economic development initiatives. Across Region VIII, I participated in countless programs that support our veterans like our Boots-to- Business training events. I also knew that educating the next generation of business leaders was at a critical juncture when I spoke at multiple Emerging Leaders class graduations.
My grassroots work meant meeting with more than 100 mayors and economic development officials to determine what they needed from the SBA to save their disappearing main street businesses. What I learned from these meetings was that the SBA must continue to support their work by providing additional access to capital and business training for their established and start-up small businesses.
Working with organizations such as local chambers of commerce, women’s business organizations, Rotary Clubs, world trade centers, SBA lenders, other federal and state agencies, and elected officials put me in direct contact with the small businesses that are on the front line of creating jobs and opportunities in their towns and cities. I met some truly amazing entrepreneurs with some remarkable innovations and business ideas.
It was important to maintain good communications and collaborative relationships with elected officials at all levels of government so that we could work together to make progress on the issues facing today’s entrepreneurs. We should all be proud of the many dedicated mayors, county commissioners, town administrators, congressmen, and senators that work tirelessly in Region VIII to create a business friendly environment. Thank you all for your support.
It has been a busy past year, and I will always have great memories of the wonderful people I met on my many travels across Region VIII. I know that the SBA will be in good hands over the next several years, and see the future for entrepreneurship in this country as bright and growing.
(Betsy Markey serves as the SBA’s Region VIII Administrator and is based in Denver. She oversees the agency’s programs and services in Colorado, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming)

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