Yesterday, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary L. Landrieu [D-La., pictured] praised the Small Business Administration [SBA] components of President Barack Obama’s budget proposal. For the second year in a row, the President has proposed increasing funding for the SBA and its programs, taking decisive steps to rebuild the SBA after eight years of cuts.
The request proposes to increase funding to the agency by $170 million from last year’s enacted level, to $994 million. This, along with new small-business, job-creating proposals the President outlined in his State of the Union address last week, show the Obama Administration’s strong support for small businesses.
"By requesting more money to help our small businesses succeed," said Sen. Landrieu, "President Obama’s budget proposal emphasizes that small business remains a top priority for the Administration, and is central to the President’s efforts to create jobs.
"As part of his budget, the President again showed his support for increasing the caps on small-business loans as a way to provide small businesses with immediate capital to grow and hire workers. This is a proposal I, along with Ranking Member Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], introduced last year. It has since gained even more bipartisan support, and passed the committee. It is my hope the proposal will be included in any job-creating measure introduced in the Senate."
President Obama’s proposed budget:
Expands Access to Capital
* Supports the increase of the maximum 7[a] loan size from $2 million to $5 million, 504 loans from $1.5 million to $5.5 million, and microloans from $35,000 to $50,000. Sen. Landrieu introduced, and the committee passed, legislation that matches these increases;
* Supports more than $28 billion in small-business financing -- including $17.5 billion for the 7[a] loan guarantee program; $7.5 billion for the 504 loan guarantee program; and $3 billion for the Small Business Investment Company [SBIC] program, which provides venture capital financing to small firms;
* Supports $25 million in microloans, allowing intermediaries to provide small loans to entrepreneurs and start-ups; and
* Provides $5.9 million for the SBA’s international trade and export promotion programs, allowing the agency to support more than $1.1 billion in capital to small exporters and maintain their network of 18 export finance specialists.
Supports Counseling and Contracting Programs
* Provides $113 million to support about 900 Small Business Development Centers [SBDCs];
* Provides $14 million to support about 100 Women’s Business Centers [WBCs];
* Provides $7 million to support about 370 chapters of SCORE, a mentoring program involving retired executives;
* Provides $2.2 million for the Historically Underutilized Business Zones [HUBZones] program, which creates incentives for contracting with small firms to create jobs in underserved communities;
* Provides $3.4 million for the 7[j] technical assistance program, which provides small disadvantaged businesses with training in financing, business development, management, accounting and marketing;
* Provides $3 million to increase the reach of Emerging Leaders. Graduates of this program -- often in distressed areas -- have reported significant increases in revenues, government contracts, local hires, and access to financing; and
* Provides $11 million to support the job growth potential found in regional clusters of businesses. These clusters will involve public-private partnerships, which align federal resources with existing regional strengths and economic growth opportunities.
Provides Help for Those Hit by a Disaster
* Supports $1.1 billion in direct disaster-assistance loans, in line with the 10-year average;
* Includes a legislative proposal that would extend, from three to seven years -- the maximum term for businesses that want an SBA disaster loan, but have an existing line of credit with a bank or have enough cash on hand where they could get a conventional loan from non-SBA sources; and
* Requests $203 million to support for administrative expenses for the disaster program -- an increase of $126 million from last year’s enacted level. These funds are critical in supporting SBA’s effort to efficiently and effectively service its $8.4 billion active loan portfolio.
Reduces Risk and Increases Oversight
* Provides $2 million to strengthen lender oversight and on-site reviews, to ensure taxpayer dollars are going to those who need help the most;
* Provides $4 million to improve oversight of government contracting programs, including the HUBZone program, and to strengthen performance assessment and management of the Small Business Innovation Research [SBIR] program; and
* Provides $1.1 million to evaluate the SBA’s loan, counseling and other programs to optimize effectiveness.
"While this budget request shows the President’s strong dedication to small businesses, I will work to increase funding for critical counseling programs, and to restore funding for the Federal and State Technology Partnership program [FAST]," Landrieu added. "The FAST program increases small-business innovation opportunities, and is vital for the growth of rural areas. The program received funding last year for the first time since 2004, and must not disappear."
SOURCES: Library of Congress, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Small Business Administration
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