New legislation aims to strengthen SBA’s support for exports
Small business exporters would have access to more international trade specialists and larger exporting loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), under legislation recently introduced in the Congress.
Two bills are currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate – the Small Business International Trade Enhancements Act of 2009 (S. 1196), introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and the “Small Business Export Promotion and Development Act of 2009 (S. 1208) , introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Landrieu Chairs the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Snowe is the Committee’s Ranking Republican Member.
The bills, introduced on June 8th, would:
- Add SBA more export finance specialists to U.S. Export Assistance Centers around the nation. These specialists have developed a phenomenal track record of boosting small business exports. There are only 17 of them at present, but last year they underwrote more than $2 billion in small business exports. Even when all the costs of these specialists are factored in, this SBA effort is generating more than $500 in export sales for each $1 that the taxpayers invest in it. The legislation wisely builds on this success.
- Permit larger SBA loans to exporters. SBA export loan sizes have not been adjusted in many years. Nor have their terms and conditions. S. 1196 would increase the maximum international trade loan from $1.7 million to $2.7 million. S. 1208 would allow the loans to rise to $5 million. The latter bill also would make SBA’s useful “Export Express” loans permanent (rather than remain the “pilot program” they have been for nearly a decade), and would allow the Export Express loan sizes to rise from the present $250,000 to $500,000. S. 1196 also would permit SBA to take a subordinate or “second lien” position on assets that are collateralized for the loans.
- Strengthen the authority and visibility of export promotion within SBA. The bills would place all of SBA’s international trade activities under a new Associate Administrator, and ensure that this individual reports directly to the SBA Administrator.
- Call on the United States Trade Representative to create a new position to focus on small business. In a recent letter to Ron Kirk, the new U.S. Trade Representative, both Senators Landrieu and Snowe (together with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY) asked Kirk to name an Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business, so that small business will be a strategic and sustained part of trade negotiations between the U.S. and other nations. These bills increase the pressure on USTR to take this step.
The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will be holding a field hearing in New Orleans on 30 June to discuss the legislation and to hear from small business exporters. After that, the Committee is expected to approve a bipartisan bill on small business exports and send it to the full Senate for consideration.
SBEA has worked closely with the Committee on this legislation and strongly supports it.
To read more about Sen. Snowe’s bill, please