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Washington, D.C. -U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R- Wyo., a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, is working to ensure that Wyoming small businesses are provided the resources they need for innovative technological research.

Enzi said Congressional appropriators have not yet allocated money for a small business initiative that is important to many small businesses in Wyoming and other rural states. He and others have requested $2 million for the initiative to be included in fiscal year 2001 appropriations.

Enzi along with Sens.Conrad Burns, R-Mont., Kit Bond, R-Mo., Mike Crapo, R-ID., Olympia Snowe, R-M., Thad Cochran, R-MS., and Patrick Leahy, D-VT., signed a Sept. 15 letter urging Senator Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and State, to support the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Rural Outreach Program.

"The SBIR Rural Outreach Program is critical to rural state development," the senators wrote. "This program many times is the only realistic source of seed capital for small businesses to 'get off the ground.'"

In 1997, Congress established the Rural Outreach Program to increase the SBIR participation of small businesses located in the states that receive the fewest SBIR awards. The program is limited to funding activities which encourage small firms in those states to participate in the SBIR Rural Outreach Program. By this measure, Congress managed to preserve the life of this program by allocating $2 million each year through fiscal year 2001. Unfortunately, only $1 million was appropriated for this program in fiscal year 1999, and the amount receded to an amount of $500,000 in fiscal year 2000. So far funding for fiscal year 2001 is set for $0.

Wyoming small businesses have received more than $9 million through SBIR programs.