(WASHINGTON, D.C.) —Lawmakers with the House Committee on Small Business today approved bipartisan legislation modernizing key job-creating entrepreneurial development programs within the Small Business Administration (SBA). Members of the Committee said the bill, H.R. 2352, the “Job Creation through Entrepreneurship Act of 2009”, represents a major effort to give established small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups the needed tools and resources to thrive, create jobs and drive economic growth.
“Challenging times in previous downturns produced some of our most innovative entrepreneurs who opened new markets and created the jobs that returned us to prosperity,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), the Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee. “These programs can make the difference for today’s new wave of innovative entrepreneurs to succeed and create the jobs we need to bring our economy back on track.”
The legislative package, comprised of seven bipartisan bills, marks the first overhaul of the SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs in a decade. The measure expands proven programs like Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and improves cross-program coordination for maximum benefit. The bill also creates new support services for veteran-owned and Native American-owned small businesses. In addition, new online learning programs are included in the bill to help entrepreneurs in rural regions and underserved communities. In addition, the bill creates a grant program for SBDCs specifically designed to assist small firms in securing capital and credit such as the $21 billion in new small business lending generated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bipartisan measure was sponsored by Rep. Heath Shuler, (D-NC), the Chairman of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development, Entrepreneurship and Trade.
“As a small business owner myself, I know these programs provide the counseling and technical resources that can make the difference for an entrepreneur trying to get off of the ground,” said Shuler. “Businesses that take advantage of these resources are twice as likely to succeed. Entrepreneurial development programs mean more successful small businesses, which translates into more jobs.”
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) authored the measures to increase opportunities for Native American small business owners. She said that by establishing an Office of Native American Affairs, the legislation would promote entrepreneurship within that community.
“Small businesses are the engine of our economy, and we need to help them lift us out of this economic downturn,” said Kirkpatrick. “By expanding assistance to entrepreneurs in tribal areas, we are going to create jobs and get folks back to work where they need new economic opportunities most.”
Economists estimate that every dollar invested in these initiatives returns $2.87 to the economy. Velázquez touted the job creating potential of the expanded programs and new initiatives in the bill, saying in 2008 alone the SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs helped generate 73,000 new jobs and infused $7.2 billion into the economy.
“With such a strong return on taxpayers’ investment, bolstering entrepreneurial development programs not only helps our small businesses succeed, but it is a wise investment for taxpayers,” Chairwoman Velázquez said. “America’s small businesses are ready to get back to work, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this important bipartisan legislation to help them do so.”
The “Job Creation through Entrepreneurship Act of 2009”, is comprised of seven measures that were approved by the Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development, Entrepreneurship and Trade on April 30. Those bills, sponsored by five Republicans and two Democrats, include:
- H.R. 1803, the Veterans Business Center Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Glenn Nye (D-VA)
- H.R. 1834, The Native American Business Development Enhancement Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)
- H.R. 1807, the Educating Entrepreneurs through Today’s Technology Act, introduced by Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
- H.R. 1838, the Women’s Business Center Act, introduced by Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK)
- H.R. 1839, the SCORE Act, introduced by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
- H.R. 1842, the Expanding Entrepreneurship Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
- H.R. 1845, The Small Business Development Center Modernization Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL)
Prior to approving H.R. 2352, the Committee passed three amendments to the measure. The first, authored by Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), would enable National Guard members and reservists to utilize the Veteran Business Center services included in the measure. The second amendment, offered by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), would establish a peer-to-peer technical assistance initiative as part of a distance learning program. Finally, the Committee agreed to an amendment by Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL). Halvorson’s amendment makes surviving spouses of veterans eligible for the veteran business programs.
All three amendments were approved on voice vote, after which the Committee passed the bill on voice vote. H.R. 2352 will now need to be considered by the entire U.S. House.