Chabot: SBA Budget Request is Part of the Small Business Equation
The House Small Business Committee held a hearing today on the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 budget request for the U.S. Small Business Administration. Discussion at today's hearing centered on the vital role that the SBA plays in keeping small businesses and consequently the economy running strong.
"With the growing sense of financial anxiety in our country, we need foster the success of our small businesses now more than ever," Ranking Member Steve Chabot (R-OH) said. "Small businesses are the primary generators of new jobs and by ensuring the SBA has the necessary resources to help them, we are making an investment in our economic health."
SBA Administrator Steven Preston detailed the agency's $657 million dollar budget, calling it "a good budget for America's small businesses, America's taxpayers and America's economy." Preston noted the SBA's request marked a 15 percent increase over FY2008, due largely to an increase in disaster loan funding that was not requested in last year's budget. Given that the Federal Emergency Management Agency found that 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a major disaster, the importance of this funding cannot be overstated.
Also included in the FY2009 request was the SBA Emerging 200 initiative, a pilot program intended to provide capital access, business planning, government contracting and mentorship assistance in ten inner city communities across the nation. The program supplements Preston's goal of renewing the SBA's "focus on ensuring that its products and services are accessible to entrepreneurs in the most underserved markets."
Acknowledging that "the small business agenda is significantly broader than the SBA budget," Congressman Chabot said that small business success hinges on more than increasing funds, but on a comprehensive approach. The Ranking Member also said that while the business incentives in the pending stimulus package were a valuable step in helping small companies thrive, Congress should work to meet long-term policy goals like making the tax cuts that expire in 2011 permanent and reducing the regulatory burden for small businesses.
Administrator Preston complemented the idea of a comprehensive small business agenda when he commented on the importance of passing free trade agreements. Discussing the pending agreement with Columbia, Preston said it was "designed to level the playing field on tariffs for the benefit of U.S. exporters." Highlighting the significance of passing the Columbia agreement, he noted that in 2005, 85 percent of U.S. companies exporting to Columbia were small and medium-sized enterprises.