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Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to discuss the importance of small businesses in the United States. It cannot be stated enough that small businesses are the economic engines of our country. Small businesses also represent the essence of the American Dream. They are creators of new jobs and innovative technologies. In fact, over the last 15 years, businesses employing less than 500 people have created 93 percent of all new jobs and employed 58.6 million workers. Businesses employing less than 20 people alone employed 21.3 million workers. In my home state of Louisiana, small businesses make up about 98 percent of businesses. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I remain focused on the needs of these small businesses. That is why I am here today to introduce a bill that I believe will help spur job creation among small businesses.
As you know, right now our country is only slowly recovering from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. This economic downturn disproportionately affected small businesses and, in turn, stifled their ability to generate growth for the country. Sadly, since November 2008, 80 percent of the job losses have come from small businesses. An estimated 2.16 million jobs were lost in the private sector from November 2008 through February 2009--nearly 40 percent from businesses with less than 50 employees. Ten jobs lost here and five jobs there add up. These are the job losses that hurt our economy, our communities and our families.
With this in mind, I was proud to lead Congressional efforts to enact the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, Public Law 111-240. President Obama signed this legislation into law on September 27, 2010. This legislation focused on the three ``C's'' important to small businesses: Capital, Contracting, and Counseling. Today I would like to focus on Capital and more specifically, on the Small Business Administration's 504 Loan Refinancing Program, which unfortunately expired in September 2012.
The 504 loan program is a long-term financing tool for economic development that provides small businesses with long-term, fixed-rate loans to help them acquire major fixed assets and real estate for expansion or modernization. The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 allowed small businesses to use the 504 loan program to refinance certain qualifying existing debt for 2 years. While loan volumes were relatively low in the program's first year, the SBA made a number of program modifications to encourage and allow more small businesses to take advantage of the long terms and low interest rates offered by the program. In fiscal year 2012, the program's second and final year, the SBA approved over 2,400 refinancings for over $2.2 billion to small businesses.
Unfortunately, on September 27, 2012, the program expired just as it was gaining traction in the small business community. Over the past year, in my conversations with small business owners and in testimonies given in roundtables and hearings before the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I have consistently heard the need to extend this portion of the 504 loan program. The bill that I am introducing today would extend for 5 years the provision allowing small business owners to use Small Business Administration, SBA, 504 loans to refinance existing commercial mortgages. Extending the 504 refinancing program is a commonsense way to help small businesses and create jobs. By allowing small businesses to refinance qualified commercial real estate debt, this program lowers their monthly mortgage payments at no cost to taxpayers. At a time when we are still facing high unemployment, this extension is one of many things that we should be doing to put more capital in the hands of America's job creators.
I would like to reiterate that this is not a new proposal, and it has consistently received bipartisan support. In total, last year I filed this extension either as a bill or an amendment four times. The 504 refinance provision extension was originally introduced as S. 2364 by Senators SNOWE, LANDRIEU, ISAKSON, and SHAHEEN. Title II of the SUCCESS Act, which I introduced during the 112th Congress, also included the refinance provision. On July 12, 2012, the Senate voted on the SUCCESS Act as part of Senate Amendment 2521 to S. 2237, the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act of 2012. Although the amendment came up short of the 60 votes needed to end debate, the SUCCESS Act amendment received a strong 57 bipartisan votes, including five of my Republican colleagues. Finally, I included the provision in a substitute amendment that I cosponsored to the JOBS Act of 2012 and offered the 504 refinancing language as an amendment to the Veterans Jobs Bill. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together in support of this common-sense, cost effective program.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.
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