Thursday, January 28, 2010

Verbatim: President Obama Draws Praise for His Commitment to Making Small Business a Top Priority

After his first-ever State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress and the American people last evening, President Barack Obama [pictured with Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in background] drew high praise from two key small-biz stakeholders regarding his agenda to make small business a top priority.

"Tonight, the President made clear that he recognizes the central role small businesses play in our economy," said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez [D-N.Y.], chairwoman of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business. "His address outlined a broad-based strategy for putting our nation on a path back toward prosperity.

"The tax initiatives the President discussed would spark job growth by helping firms reinvest in their facilities, expand operations and purchase new equipment. Importantly, the President's proposed investments in infrastructure and energy efficiency programs will put more Americans back to work in sectors dominated by small businesses.

"Ultimately, access to capital remains the single biggest obstacle to small-business job growth. So, I was particularly pleased to hear President Obama focus on ways to get credit flowing to entrepreneurs.

"The House has already passed legislation that would support $44 billion in small-business lending and investment. In coming weeks, I look forward to working with the President as we seek ways to improve the flow of capital to small businesses.

"As the President made clear tonight, we will not rest until America's entrepreneurs have the resources necessary to lead our economy forward. After all, small businesses are critical -- not just for immediate job growth, but for rebuilding our economy in the long term."

U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary L. Landrieu [D-La.], who has effectively shepherded small-business job creation measures through her committee, also weighed in on President Obama’s important focus on investing in small businesses to help create jobs.

"Tonight, President Obama made it clear that investing in our Main Street businesses is the quickest way to improve our economy and create jobs," Sen. Landrieu declared. "Small businesses are truly our nation’s job creators, creating 64 percent of all new jobs in the last 15 years. And, yet, this past year, small businesses have been hit the hardest by the economic downturn.

"Nearly 85 percent of the jobs lost came from small businesses. We must invest in our small businesses, because they are the businesses that have bared the greatest burden in this economy, and they are the businesses that have the greatest potential to improve it.

"The first, and fastest, way to boost our small businesses’ ability to create jobs is by giving them greater access to capital and tax credits. President Obama highlighted several ways to do this -- all of which I support, and look forward to hearing more details.

"Another way is by increasing the loan limit cap on small-business loans -- something that President Obama has encouraged, and that I, along with 18 Republican and Democratic Senators, have included as part of S.2869, 'The Small Business Job Creation and Access to Capital Act.' In addition to raising the cap on loans, this bill extends important Recovery Act provisions that have helped to create more than 500,000 jobs in the last year.

"In addition to improving lending for small businesses, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative to help small businesses and farmers increase American-made exports, and help reach a goal of creating 2 million new jobs in America by doubling our exports. Making minor changes to some of the programs that already exist to help small exporters can help us reach the 2 million goal even faster. I, along with Sen. [Olympia] Snowe, made these changes in a bill to boost the exporting potential of small businesses.

"These are simple, inexpensive ways we can make a big impact. I look forward to working with President Obama, his administration and my colleagues in Congress to help our small businesses as we work to create jobs in America.”

The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship passed S.2869, "The Small Business Job Creation and Access to Capital Act," and S.2862, "The Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act," out of committee last December. For more information on the bills, please click here.

Last week, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced that his office is dedicating a high-level post to promoting the interests of small-business exports, a move that Sen. Landrieu repeatedly advocated. To read more about the announcement, please click here.

Several small-business owners sat with First Lady Michelle Obama during last night’s address. They included: Ping Fu of Chapel Hill, N.C.; Chris Lardner of Albuquerque, N.M.; Juan Yépez of Lawrence, Mass.; and Trevor Yager of Indianapolis, In. For biographies of the small-business owners, please click here.

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* To view the video and read the transcript of President Obama's first State of the Union address, go to:

* To learn more about S.2869, "The Small Business Job Creation and Access to Capital Act":

* For an overview of S.2862, "The Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act," visit:

SOURCES: Library of Congress, U.S. House Committee on Small Business, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, The White House [photo by Pete Souza]

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