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Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, as Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I am pleased to introduce the Strengthening Entrepreneurship for America's Veterans Act of 2010. This vital and timely legislation builds upon the Small Business Administration's, SBA, existing counseling programs that successfully assist hundreds of thousands of veterans, service-disabled veterans and reservists annually, creating thousands of jobs. By strengthening and improving these programs, the SBA will be able to reach even more veterans, helping them to achieve their dream of starting or growing their own small businesses.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, there are currently more than 23.8 million veterans in the United States. Since 2001 alone, more than 2 million of these servicemembers have been deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. This means that every day, hundreds of new veterans are returning home from service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seeking to move on with their lives after long deployments, many veterans become entrepreneurs to support both themselves and their families.
However, in the face of historically high unemployment and tight credit, starting a business has never been more difficult. During the 111th Congress, the Committee has heard from many small business owners throughout the country. They have told me that the programs and services currently offered by SBA provide access to important resources that enable them to start, grow and expand their businesses. But in the face of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, demand for these services is at an all time high. For these reasons, it is critical that we do more to help our entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially the hundreds of veterans returning home each day who are significantly more likely to struggle to find work.
That is why today I am introducing the Strengthening Entrepreneurship for America's Veterans Act of 2010. Since the passage of legislation establishing the Office of Veterans Business Development, OVBD, in 1999, the SBA has operated a network of centers and programs that provide technical assistance and support to veterans interested in starting or growing their own small businesses. This legislation will further enhance and improve these existing programs by providing more increased access to business counseling and technical assistance through a new network of Veterans Business Centers, modeled after the successful Small Business Development Centers, SBDC, and Women's Business Centers, WBC, programs. The Veterans Business Center Program will not only provide services to returning veterans and service-disabled veterans, but also to the families, spouses and surviving spouses of these heroic men and women.
In closing, I would like to thank Senator Snowe for her continued leadership on small business issues and especially for her cosponsorship of this important legislation. Senator Snowe has been a tireless advocate for the many veterans and reservists in her home state of Maine and I am pleased to have her support on this legislation.
I would also note that many of the provisions in this bill were included in S. 1229, the Entrepreneurial Development Act of 2009, which I introduced earlier this Congress with Senator Snowe's support. S. 1229 passed out of Committee with unanimous and bipartisan support in June of 2009. However, given the importance of this legislation to our more than 23 million veterans, I have decided to reintroduce these provisions as a standalone bill. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to bring this legislation to the President's desk in the coming months.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record,
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