U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today renewed her call for Senate passage of the Small Business Jobs Act, which would help small businesses access capital, stimulate investment through tax incentives, and promote entrepreneurship. The small business package also includes the Export Promotion Act, legislation introduced by Klobuchar and Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) in March to help small- and medium-sized businesses promote their products overseas.
"Small businesses are the engines of job creation in Minnesota and across the nation, and they can lead the way to economic recovery," Klobuchar said. "In an increasingly competitive global economy, it is important that small businesses have access to the information and tools that will help them capitalize on potential opportunities in foreign markets. Exporting is literally a world of opportunity."
The Small Business Jobs Act includes provisions that would:
* Create a $30 billion fund to increase lending for small businesses.
* Increase the limit on the Small Business Administration's 7(a) loans from $2 million to $5 million, 504 loans from $1.5 million to $5.5 million, and increase the 7(a) program's loan guarantee from 75 percent to 90 percent.
* Extend and expand the depreciation deduction for small businesses through 2011 to allow them to write off 100 percent of capital expenditures in the year purchases are made.
* Help entrepreneurs by doubling the amount of start-up expenditures that may be deducted by those starting a small business.
* Encourage investment in small businesses by allowing investors to exclude 100 percent of the capital gains from investments in small businesses they hold for 5 years.
The Klobuchar-LeMieux provisions would connect businesses with export promotion and outreach resources through the Department of Commerce to help them expand into new markets and increase their bottom lines. Officials in the department's International Trade Administration have expertise in helping small businesses navigate their way into new markets abroad. But for the past few years, the program that specializes in matching small businesses with potential export markets has not replaced retiring officials, losing roughly 200 officials since 2004 as demand for assistance continues to rise. The bill will restore staffing levels in this program to their 2004 levels. More than 95 percent of the world's customers are located outside the United States, and recently, 30 percent of U.S. businesses indicated that they would be interested in exporting but did not know where to begin.
The Klobuchar-LeMieux provisions would also expand the outreach program through the department's Rural Export Initiative (REI) to ensure that small- and medium-sized businesses located in rural areas know about available export-promotion services. In 2006 alone, the REI helped rural American businesses generate over $183 million in exports with an investment of $860,000 -- a return of approximately $213 on each dollar.
U.S. exports currently support more than six million jobs in manufacturing and one million jobs in agriculture. Businesses that export pay their employees 13-to-18 percent more and are 8 percent more likely to stay in business than are companies that do not export. However, less than one percent of U.S. businesses take advantage of exporting, and of those that do export, 60 percent limit themselves to only one foreign country.
The Senate is expected to vote on this legislation this week.g