Small businesses are the backbone of our national and local economies. They are a source of innovation and are powered by the hard work and determination of millions of our citizens. In Maine, over 97 percent of the state's businesses are classified as small. As a former small business owner, Mike understands that our nation's entrepreneurs need access to affordable capitol, expanded options for health care, and policies that do not hurt their ability to grow and create jobs. Mike served on the House Small Business Committee for eight years and continues to work hard to make sure that Maine's small business voices are heard at the federal level.
While the Recovery Act contained important tax benefits and increased lending opportunities, Mike believes that more needs to be done. He worked with his colleagues to pass a number of policies that would benefit small businesses, including eliminating Small Business Administration (SBA) loan fees and strengthening federal loan guarantees so that access to capital is more affordable and available.
INCREASING ACCESS TO CAPITAL FOR SMALL BUSINESSES:
Access to capital is a major component of small business development. Two programs administered by the SBA - the 7(a) loan program and the Microloan program - have been highly successful in providing funding to entrepreneurs. The 7(a) program provides loans on favorable terms to small businesses and allows funds to be used for operating capital. The Microloan program serves low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs that are not served by private sector banks or the 7(a) loan program.
Mike has pushed for strong funding of these programs, which help small businesses throughout our country create jobs and enter new markets. He has also pushed for improvements to current small business capital programs. He supported the Small Business Financing and Investment Act to comprehensively reform the SBA's lending programs in order to help spur job creation and meet the needs of American small businesses. In 2009, 513 SBA loans were made in Maine, totaling just over $74.8 million that went to help our state's small businesses.
Most recently, Mike supported H.R. 5297, the Small Business Jobs Act, which was signed into law on September 27th, 2010. The bill expands much needed lending to millions of small businesses and offers tax incentives to help small businesses grow, hire, and fuel our economy. The bill leverages up to $300 billion in private sector lending for small businesses, along with state grants for small business lending. It also expands small business access to private capital to finance an expansion and hire new workers. In addition, it gives small businesses $12 billion in tax cuts to spur investment, growth, new starts and hiring by:
* doubling and enhancing small business expensing and extending bonus depreciation
* allowing for 100% exclusion of capital gains on investments in small business
* doubling the deduction for start-up expenditures
* allowing self-employed taxpayers to deduct health costs for payroll tax purposes
ASSISTING VETERAN BUSINESS OWNERS:
In addition to authoring language which would increase access to capital for veterans, Mike also supported passage of the Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act of 2008. This bill, which became law, increased funding for the SBA's Office of Veteran Business Development. This office works to maximize the availability of small business programs for veterans, service-disabled veterans, reserve members, and their dependents or survivors.
Mike also authored language which was included H.R.1361, the RECOVER Act, that would extend the time period by which a returning reservist may apply for assistance in restarting a small business that they were forced to leave behind when being called up for duty. While the Senate never acted on this bill, similar language was included in H.R. 4253, the Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act of 2008, which became law on February 14, 2008.
Additionally, Mike is working to ensure that SBA programs intended to help veterans are run efficiently and effectively, and that contracts and jobs go to the intended recipients. As a former member of the Small Business Committee and current Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Veterans' Health, Mike strongly believes that entrepreneurship opportunities for veterans is a vital part of Congress' mission and must continue to be included in the role of the SBA.
Small businesses today face an array of challenges that weigh on them more heavily than their corporate counterparts. While larger businesses are able to hire regulatory staff, small business owners, who are already putting in long hours to keep their businesses afloat, find themselves with the additional burden of ensuring their businesses are compliant with various federal regulations.
Unfortunately, all too often federal agencies use a one-size-fits-all approach that disproportionately burdens small firms. It is crucial that the regulatory requirements do not outweigh the benefits.
Throughout his time in Congress, Mike has supported measures that would require federal agencies to more thoroughly analyze the impact of regulations on small businesses. In a variety of different meetings with constituents, Mike has heard that the regulations required by some of the federal programs have discouraged numerous small businesses and lenders from utilizing available funds. Ultimately, if small businesses are less burdened by government rules, they will be in a better position to grow our local economies and create jobs.
RECOVERY RESOURCES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES:
The Recovery Act contained a boost to SBA's lending programs and provided tax breaks to support small business growth. With commercial loans becoming scarce and with fewer lenders willing to take chances on small entrepreneurs, restoring the flow of credit for daily operations was crucial for small businesses. The Recovery Act increased the guarantee on SBA loans for lenders, while also providing capital for entrepreneurs through a new debt refinancing program within the SBA. The bill also reduced to zero the fees on SBA-backed loans.
Additionally, Mike supported legislation to allow businesses to carry back net operating losses for up to five years for losses incurred in either 2008 or 2009. Under the Recovery Act, the net operating loss carry back period was extended from two to five years for tax years beginning in or ending in 2008 for small businesses with gross receipts of $15 million or less.
Additional legislation expanded the provision so that all businesses can carry back net operating losses for up to five years. Losses incurred either in 2008 or 2009 can be applied against previous, profitable years.
In December 2009, the House passed H.R. 2847, the "Jobs for Main Street Act," which extends the strong federal loan guaranties and elimination of SBA lending program fees, priorities Mike raised in a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders. Mike also worked hard to ensure that the bill included a "Buy America" provision, which requires that American-made materials be used for construction, alteration, maintenance or repair of transportation and infrastructure projects funded in the legislation. H.R. 2847 was signed into law on March 18th, 2010.
PROMOTING MAINE'S SMALL BUSINESS RESOURCE PROVIDERS:
While access to capital and tax relief remains important priorities, more and more small businesses are calling for attention to additional support resources to help them develop plans that will allow them to weather these tough times.
Mike helped pass a bill in the House to modernize key job-creating entrepreneurial development programs within the SBA, expanding proven programs like the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Women's Business Centers (WBC) and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and improving cross-program coordination for maximum benefit. These programs are very active in Maine and have great track records.
Maine's small business resource providers offer a great support system for both existing and start up businesses. The dedicated individuals working at Maine SBA, SBDC, WBC and SCORE all offer advice, mentoring and business planning skills for small business owners. Maine Business Works, a project of the Maine SBDC and other resource partners, is a great resource that offers information on assistance that is currently available to entrepreneurs in Maine. Mike has held a number of roundtable discussions in order to help connect small business owners with these resource providers. If you would like to be contacted regarding future forums please email Mike.