From my younger days starting a small business selling cookies to my recent chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I have fought for small businesses for most of my adult life. From dealing with healthcare to fighting against big businesses for a market, I know how challenging and rewarding it can be running a small business. And I also know how important they are to our economy. Small businesses are an essential component of the Massachusetts economy, bringing in over $25 billion in revenue and employing approximately 1.5 million people across the Bay State.
That's why I've long fought to ensure that small businesses are able to get the support they need, in particular with obtaining much needed business loans. I supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that became law in February 2009. This law directed additional funds to small business loan programs through the Small Business Administration (SBA). I am certainly pleased that lending through SBA programs has recently seen an increase, but there is much more work that needs to be done. I continue to work with my colleagues to ensure the full reauthorization of SBA loan programs, and I am always exploring new ways to increase access to small business access to credit.
One great example of a program that works for small businesses: the Small Business Innovation Research program, which requires government agencies with sizeable research and development budgets to set aside a portion of those funds for small business projects, has injected over $22 billion into more than 100,000 small business projects across the country. As someone who believes that small businesses are on the leading edge of innovation in our country, I worked with my colleagues on the reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research program that passed the Senate in July 2009. Also:
* I introduced the Small Business Health Information Technology Financing Act of 2009 to amend the Small Business Act to authorize loan guarantees for health information technology.
* I sponsored the Small Business Venture Capital Act to reauthorize the venture capital program and focus on geographic areas that need it most.
* I am also proud to sponsor the Child Care Lending Pilot Act, which would open up certain SBA loans to small non-profit child care centers.
Rising health costs are particularly hard on small businesses today. That is why I have been a long-time supporter of a tax credit to help small businesses with the cost of providing quality health insurance coverage to their employees, and I have worked hard to reform our healthcare system to give small business owners access to high quality healthcare at affordable prices.
Throughout my career, as I've traveled across Massachusetts, I have listened to small business owners all across the state tell me about the challenges they face and the priorities they have. For 25 years, I've been a leader in the Senate fighting for the best interests of Massachusetts small businesses, including better access to capital, business counseling and assistance programs, and a fair shot at federal contracts, and I will continue to work to enact proposals that will help Bay State businesses maintain their leading role in America's economy.