Wednesday, June 20, 2007

House Democrats Pass Significant Reforms for Entrepreneurial Development Initiatives

While many aspiring entrepreneurs have great ideas, it is not unusual that they face difficulty when it comes to turning their dreams of business ownership into successful ventures. This is often caused by a lack of adequate training.

Today, members of the U.S. House of Representatives acted to change this by approving a bipartisan package of new education and investment tools for small firms. Simply put, it's the most comprehensive restructuring of entrepreneurial development programs in nearly a decade.

The legislation that passed today targets growing sectors of the small business community, including veterans and women. It also offers assistance to help entrepreneurs cope with their most pressing challenges, such as regulatory burdens, rising health care, and energy costs. The result will be increased business growth and more successful ventures throughout the country.

"The face of business is changing and so are the challenges that entrepreneurs are being hit with," said Nydia M. Velázquez, chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business. "If they are to succeed in the 21st century, then small businesses need access to the tools that will make that possible. This is exactly what we are providing them with today by passing this legislative package."

The House passed four bills that modernize entrepreneurial development programs across the U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA]:

* H.R. 2359, the SBA Entrepreneurial Development Programs Act of 2007, introduced by committee Vice-Chairman Joe Sestak [D-PA, pictured above], expands the role of Small Business Development Centers [SBDCs] and targets the most pressing economic challenges facing entrepreneurs today -- from the rising costs of health care and energy, to regulatory burdens and compliance costs. It also expands the SCORE program, to ensure services reach entrepreneurs across the country.

* H.R. 2397, the SBA Women's Business Programs Act of 2007, introduced by Rep. Mary Fallin [R-OK], expands the Women's Business Centers' reach across the U.S., and increases services in underserved communities. The legislation dedicates resources to strengthen centers and ensure stability in the program.

* H.R. 2366, the SBA Veterans' Programs Act of 2007, introduced by Rep. Vern Buchanan [R-FL], creates additional Veterans Business Outreach Centers and offers business development services targeted to veterans.

* H.R. 2284, the Native American Small Business Development Act of 2007, introduced by Congressman Tom Udall [D-NM], amends the Small Business Act to expand and improve the educational and technical assistance provided by SBDCs to Indian tribe members, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs.

"Around the country, small firms are taking the lead in creating jobs and developing their communities," said Chairwoman Velázquez. "Democrats took steps today to ensure that burgeoning entrepreneurs -- including returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and aspiring women business owners -- will be able to learn the skills they need to turn their dreams into reality."

Entrepreneurial development programs have been critical to the success of small-business owners nationwide. In fact, studies show that entrepreneurs who receive this assistance are twice as likely to succeed as those who have not.

These initiatives, and the service they provide, are critical to small business expansion. This technical assistance will enable entrepreneurs to better handle the unique challenges they face in today's economy and, thus, create jobs -- often, in areas that were previously underserved.

"This is a big step forward for aspiring entrepreneurs," added Chairwoman Velázquez. "This legislation ensures that emerging sectors of our small business community -- returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, female entrepreneurs, and senior citizens -- have access to the resources they need to not only start a business, but to also expand it. It allows the drivers of this nation's economy to remain on top when it comes to development and job creation."

Sources: Congressional Budget Office,, Library of Congress, U.S. House Committee on Small Business

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