As part of National Small Business Week, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today reintroduced the bipartisan Small Business Export Growth Act to help small businesses capitalize on export opportunities by removing red tape and improve federal export assistance programs for small businesses. The New Hampshire Senators crafted the legislation in response to industry feedback at their 2011 Small Business Committee field hearing.
"Ninety-five percent of the world's customers live overseas, yet only 1 percent of small businesses sell their products into foreign markets. We have to do better if we are going to keep the U.S. economy competitive," said Senator Shaheen, who serves on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and was the first New Hampshire governor to have led a trade mission overseas. "This bill builds on the feedback we've received from small business and will make it easier for U.S. small businesses to tap into a burgeoning economic frontier," Shaheen added. "While there are opportunities and resources available to promote exports, agencies need to do a better job of listening to feedback from small business owners and coordinating their efforts. This bill will make that happen."
"In response to valuable feedback from New Hampshire small business owners, our legislation would improve coordination between regulatory agencies and reduce obstacles faced by small businesses seeking to boost export opportunities," said Senator Ayotte. "This is a common sense measure that will help small business owners better navigate the complexities of growing and exporting their products to foreign markets."
Nationwide, more small businesses are exporting today that just three years ago and the percentage of small businesses interested in exporting is continuing to rise, according to a 2013 NSBA/SBEA exporting survey. Small Business Export Growth Act specifically works to improve the coordination between federal and state agencies and expands outreach efforts to better inform small businesses about federal export promotion opportunities and resources.
The bill's provisions would:
- Encourage greater coordination between state and federal resources by creating a working group on the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) to streamline efforts among state and federal export promotion and assistance agencies;
- Maximize efficiency of export programs by directing the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) to identify opportunities to consolidate unnecessary government offices;
- Require the Small Business Administration to conduct greater outreach to small businesses, including export events in each state, about the opportunities in exporting and federal resources available for small businesses;
- Require the Small Business Administration to survey businesses about ways to improve the export.gov website to ensure it serves as a comprehensive resource for small businesses;
- Directs the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Commerce to prepare an annual report on the TPCC's ability to carry out its duties;
- Require the TPCC to incorporate recommendations from the Government Accountability Office -- including those pertaining to eliminating duplication and overlap.
"The Small Business Export Growth Act is key to making exporting more accessible for America's small businesses as it will better inform them about federal export promotion opportunities and resources," said Small Business Exporters Association President and CEO Todd McCracken. "We are pleased to endorse this bill as it helps create jobs while simultaneously expanding trade activities of small businesses."
Exports represent a promising opportunity for growth and job creation in the New Hampshire economy, especially for small businesses. After record growth in 2010, exporting has become an increasingly important part of the state's economy. Last year, exports of New Hampshire products totaled nearly $3.5 billion, providing a critical boost to many New Hampshire businesses.