EXPANDING AND IMPROVING ASSISTANCE PROVIDED BY SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTERS -- (House of Representatives - June 18, 2007)
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Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 2284, which will amend the Small Business Act to improve the assistance provided by Small Business Development Centers to Indian tribe members, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.
This bill will provide management, technical and research assistance to small businesses owned by Indian tribe members, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians and ensure them full access to existing business counseling and technical assistance available through the Small Business Development Center program.
Mr. Speaker, in a recent report by the distinguished Visiting Senior Fellow at the East-West Center and Emeritus Professor at the University Hawaii, Dr. Seiji Naya, the poverty rate for Native Hawaiians was 15 percent in 2005 while the state average was 9.8 percent. Native Hawaiians accounted for 27 percent of the total State population in poverty. The per capita income for Native Hawaiians was only 67 percent of the state average. In terms of per capita income, 32 percent of Native Hawaiians earned less than $10,000 in 2005 compared to only 18 percent for Non-Native Hawaiians.
Native Hawaiians are committed to changing these statistics through innovative educational and entrepreneurial programs. One of the most promising government programs that will enable them to do this is the Small Business Act, particularly Section 8(a) which has given Native Americans an opportunity to participate in the economy of this country by providing a fair chance to obtain federal contracts. As a result, hundreds of Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs have been given the opportunity to demonstrate their business capabilities, while providing valuable services and products to the government and the private sector.
The Native Hawaiian organizations that have taken advantage of the 8(a) program have provided hundreds of new well-paying jobs for Native Hawaiians and Non-Native Hawaiians alike. Many Native Hawaiians have received training in new marketable skills. The profits from these enterprises have been plowed back into the Native Hawaiian communities to provide essential social, health and cultural benefits traditionally funded by government or not at all.
H.R. 2284 will provide the necessary assistance to help make sure that these worthy programs continue to grow and expand as much as possible by providing needed assistance and business expertise. I urge unanimous approval of this measure.
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