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Public Statements

Small Business Lending Improvements Act Of 2007

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


SMALL BUSINESS LENDING IMPROVEMENTS ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - April 25, 2007)

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Mr. MATHESON. Mr. Chairman, I rise as a supporter of H.R. 1332, the underlying bill, and I would particularly like to thank the sponsor of the bill, Representative MELISSA BEAN, as well as the chairwoman of the Small Business Committee, Ms. Velázquez, and the ranking member, Mr. Chabot, for all their hard work in bringing this bipartisan bill to the floor today.

Now, the 7(a) program is SBA's largest primary business loan program and provides loan guarantees to thousands of small businesses that are unable to obtain financing through the traditional lending market. That is why I am pleased that section 105 of the underlying bill will establish the Increased Veteran Participation Program to help increase 7(a) loans to military veterans, which declined by over $170 million between fiscal year 2005 and fiscal year 2006.

Section 103 of the bill, which permanently establishes the Community Express Program, will also provide much needed loans to veterans.

As 14 percent of small businesses in America are owned by veterans, we should do all we can to support those who have served our country. However, we should not leave out the men and women who continue to serve our country honorably every day in the military reserves. Small business ownership is extremely challenging, especially for members of the Reserve component of the Armed Forces who must carefully balance their civilian careers with their duty to serve our Nation.

My amendment would simply include members of the Reserve components of the Armed Forces as eligible to receive loans under the Community Express Program in section 103 of the bill and as eligible to participate in the Increased Veteran Participation Program in section 105.

Since 9/11, I think we all know we have relied on members of the Reserve more and more to participate in serving our country, and this increased role should be recognized and supported.

I urge colleagues to support my amendment.

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Mr. MATHESON. Mr. Chairman, as I just explained in the discussion on my previous amendment, SBA's 7(a) loan program helps thousands of entrepreneurs start new businesses, create jobs and grow the economy here in the United States. Unfortunately, many segments of the American population are still unable to obtain necessary capital to successfully become entrepreneurs. Now to help remedy this inequity, the SBA created the Community Express Program to reach out to segments of the small business community that have difficulty accessing capital from traditional lending markets. These businesses are typically owned by women, veterans and socially or economically disadvantaged individuals who are underrepresented as business owners and who need smaller business loans accompanied by technical assistance.

Members of Indian tribes especially lack sufficient access to capital for starting new businesses. Of minority-owned businesses, only 6.6 percent were owned by American Indians, the least percentage of any minority group surveyed. And of U.S. nonfarm businesses, less than 1 percent are owned by American Indians.

I represent many Native American tribes in my district, and I know the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well if only scarce capital can be attained for new businesses.

My amendment would simply include members of qualified Indian tribes as eligible to receive loans under the Community Express Program in section 103 of the underlying bill. This minor revision will provide loans to a currently underserved population and help participating lenders better determine who is actually eligible to receive loans under the Community Express Program.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

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