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U.S. Rep. Peters, State Senator Gregory and State Senator Smith Work Together to Help Michiganders Launch New Small Businesses

Press Release

Location: Southfield, MI

At a press conference at the Southfield public library today, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, MI State Sen. Vincent Gregory and MI State Sen. Virgil Smith discussed their collaborative efforts to help unemployed entrepreneurs launch a new small business through Self-Employment Assistance. Implementing a Self-Employment Assistance program would allow out of work Michiganders to collect unemployment insurance benefits while working toward the launch of a new small business. Starting a new business is a full time job in itself and providing this incentive would help spur new economic development opportunities and create new jobs in our region.

In Congress, Peters helped write the STARTUP Act and pass key provisions into law that provide millions of federal dollars for this kind of program, but without a legislative change at the state level, Michigan is not eligible for their share of $1.18 million in federal funding. That's why in Lansing, Senators Gregory and Smith have introduced bills to update Michigan's unemployment laws to make Michiganders eligible for federal Self-Employment Assistance.

"Small businesses are leading Michigan's economic recovery and creating jobs right here, so we need to make it easier for entrepreneurs to work toward owning their own business," said U.S. Rep. Gary Peters. "This is why I worked to pass legislation which frees up millions of federal dollars for Self-Employment Assistance. I'm proud to partner with Senators Vincent Gregory and Virgil Smith to help create new jobs in Southeast Michigan and I applaud them for their leadership on this important issue."

"Small businesses account for two thirds of all new jobs and that's why we're working together to help entrepreneurs create the 21st century jobs of the future," said MI State Senator Vincent Gregory. "Congressman Peters worked to make Self-Employment Assistance possible, but to make sure Michiganders are eligible, I'm working with Senator Smith. Together, we'll make it easier for small businesses to grow, expand and create new jobs right here in Southfield."

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and that's why we're working to make sure more Michigan entrepreneurs have the opportunity to turn their ideas into reality," said MI State Senator Virgil Smith. "Self-employment assistance participants are 19 times more likely to succeed than those who do not receive this funding. That's why we're working to bring this program to Michigan. We have an opportunity right now to grow our local economy and I'm proud to join with Congressman Peters and Senator Gregory to get it done."

Click here to view a photo from the event.

Self-Employment Assistance:
Helping Unemployed Michiganders Start Small Businesses and Create Jobs


* Work search requirement unfair to entrepreneurs: Current unemployment insurance rules require recipients to be actively searching for and willing to accept suitable work. Self-employment assistance allows a small number of those same recipients who want to start their own businesses to maintain their benefits while they build their companies. Allowing entrepreneurs the ability to focus on building their businesses instead of looking for other work just to keep their UI benefits increases their likelihood of success.

* Only five states have active SEA programs: Currently, only Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Oregon have active Self-Employment Assistance programs.

* SEA Participants more likely to become self-employed or find a job: A U.S. Department of Labor study found that self-employment assistance participants were 19 times more likely than eligible non-participants to become self-employed. Moreover, they were four times more likely to find a job of any kind.


* Introduction: Reps. Lloyd Doggett and Gary Peters introduced H.R. 3427, the Startup Technical Assistance for Reemployment Training and Unemployment Prevention (STARTUP) Act on Nov. 15, 2011. Sen. Ron Wyden introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

* Addresses barriers to SEA: The STARTUP Act encourages states to offer self-employment assistance by: allowing the long-term unemployed, who remain eligible for unemployment benefits, to draw down those benefits in the form of self-employment assistance; providing technical assistance and model language from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for states that create new self-employment programs; and providing financial assistance to aid states in establishing, implementing, improving and/or administering self-employment programs.


* STARTUP Act substantially incorporated in payroll tax extension package: The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which was signed by President Obama in February, substantially incorporated the STARTUP Act along with providing an extension of unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut.

* Grant money for states: The February legislation includes grant money that can be used by states to implement a new Self-Employment Assistance program as well as to promote programs and enroll eligible participants. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is eligible to receive $1.18 million in federal funding: $1,010,307 for establishing the program and $168,384 for promotion and enrollment.


* DOL Requirements: In order to receive federal funding and implement a self-employment assistance program, states' UI laws must meet the DOL requirements. Michigan's laws currently do not comply with these requirements.

* New legislation needed: Michigan must enact new legislation to allow Michiganders to participate in SEA and access the $1.18 million in federal funding available.


* Legislation introduced in Michigan: On June 14, 2012, State Senators Vincent Gregory and Virgil Smith introduced a pair of bills that would update Michigan's UI laws to allow Michiganders to utilize Self-Employment Assistance.

* Action by Sens. Gregory and Smith will allow access to federal funds: Once passed by the Michigan House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Snyder, Michigan will become eligible for $1.18 million in federal funding to implement and promote this program.

* Deadline: Michigan and other states have until June 30, 2013 to submit complete applications to DOL.


* DOL Release:

* Full DOL Materials:

* Rep. Peters Release on STARTUP Act Introduction:

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