Sept. 17, 2003
The Small Business Administration
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I speak today in honor of the Small Business Administration, which this year is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its service to America's small businesses.
This week marks the SBA's annual Small Business Week. Throughout the events of this week, the SBA will demonstrate many of the valuable programs that have been created to help entrepreneurs across the country achieve success over the past 50 years. The SBA is relied upon to help restore economically depressed communities, spur technological research and development, provide access to capital and business training, monitor the procurement practices of Federal agencies, and ensure small businesses are heard within the Federal Government.
With the assistance of the programs and resources of the Small Business Administration and its dedicated employees, thousands of small businesses across the country have developed and expanded. Some of those companies have since developed into household names after receiving help from the SBA; companies like Outback Steakhouse, Nike, and Staples. These businesses exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit that is so unique to this country.
The importance of the small business community cannot and should not be underestimated. The link between small businesses and a strong economy is clear: small businesses account for over 50 percent of nonfarm GDP, and account for 75 percent of all new jobs. Time and again, our small businesses have led this Nation out of bad economic times.
We cannot help this country's economy by ignoring our small businesses and underfunding the initiatives meant to foster their establishment and growth. President Bush seems to understand that there is a need to support small businesses, but during his 3 years in office, he has yet to translate that understanding into actions. In his first year, he cut the SBA's budget by almost 50 percent. In his second year, he eliminated all funding for the agency's largest small-business loan program and shifted the costmore than a hundred millionto the small businesses and the SBA's lending partners in the private sector who make the loans possiblenever mind that the government was already overcharging them. He has cut funding for microloans and counselingthe SBA's number one program for reaching African Americans, Hispanics and women.
Here in the Senate, we are trying to pass legislation reauthorizing the programs of the Small Business Administration for another 3 years, and I think Chair SNOWE and the other members of the committee for working with me to create a bill that enables small businesses to continue to prosper. We are doing our part to assist small businesses, and the next step is to ensure that the SBA and its programs receive the funding they need to actively help small businesses across the country in these difficult economic times. The administration's low-ball request for FY 2004 will not help about adequate funding of the critical assistance that America's small businesses need. I intend to do everything possible to obtain necessary funding for these critical small business programs to ensure they will thrive in the next year and for the 50 years to come.