Congressional Appropriators Agree to Fund Small Business Export Finance Specialists

SBEA recently warned its members that Congress was threatening to eliminate an effective group of small business export finance specialists. These professionals are currently assigned to US Export Assistance Centers around the country. The Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives sought to end all funding for them.

To all of you who responded to our alert by contacting Congress, thank you.

In December, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees agreed to continue fund these specialists, as did the full House and Senate in January. In early February, President Bush signed the bill providing the funds.

For a program that was truly facing extinction, this is a significant victory.

We would also like to publicly thank the 35 members of the U.S. House of Representatives — Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives — led by Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), who showed their support for the nation’s smaller exporting companies by signing a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting the restoration of the funds.

However, while the small business export finance specialists program was saved, the Appropriators did cut its budget in half. This may lead to a reduction in the number of these specialists.

The US Small Business Administration, which recruited and assigned the specialists, is deciding whether it can close the funding gap through its own internal funds. If not, some of the specialists may be withdrawn. This would be a real tragedy for a program that has consistently delivered more than $200 in export sales for every $1 of the taxpayers’ money invested in it. Overall, these export finance specialists have been crucial in generating more than $3 billion in U.S. export sales since 1999, and in creating over 40,000 new American jobs.

SBEA will be working closely with SBA to keep the export finance specialists in place. We will update you as the picture becomes clearer.