Late yesterday, Senators John Kerry [D-Mass.] and Olympia J. Snowe [R-Maine, pictured] introduced comprehensive legislation to promote far-reaching entrepreneurial development programs. In particular, the bill expands women and minority small business ownership opportunities by boosting Small Business Development Centers [SBDCs], Women’s Business Centers [WBCs], SCORE, and other programs. It will also help reduce regulatory burdens on small firms.
“Investing in these core small business assistance programs will help create jobs in our state," noted Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "In Massachusetts alone, SBDCs served over 8,500 entrepreneurs last year, and our Center for Women and Enterprise has generated 15,000 jobs over the last 10 years. These programs will not only help our entrepreneurs succeed today, but they will build the next generation of small business owners, too.”
“By investing in assistance and development programs that create small business opportunities for women and minorities, we are paving the way for all Americans to improve their entrepreneurial skills,” said Sen. Snowe, ranking member of the committee. “This legislation is critical to providing the necessary tools to expand and promote small business ownership, and create the necessary jobs that all Americans rely on.”
Many of the provisions in the Kerry-Snowe bill unanimously passed the committee last Congress. Specifically, the bill:
* Reauthorizes and expands key small business counseling and assistance programs like SBDCs, WBCs, and SCORE;
* Improves the WBC grant program through streamlined paperwork and increased oversight;
* Promotes greater consultation between the National Women’s Business Council, the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise, and WBCs;
* Creates a Native American small business development program, an Office of Native American Affairs within the Small Business Administration [SBA], and a Native American grant pilot program to foster increased employment and expansion of small businesses in Indian Country through business counseling services;
* Seeks to address the small business health insurance crisis by creating a competitive pilot grant program for SBDCs to provide counseling and resources to small businesses about health insurance options in their communities;
* Establishes a pilot program to assist small businesses in complying with federal and state laws and regulations; and
* Creates a Minority Entrepreneurship and Innovation Pilot Program to provide competitive grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities [HBCUs], Hispanic-Serving Institutions [HSIs], Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges to create a curricula focused on entrepreneurship.
Sources: Library of Congress, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
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