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Enzi supports continuation of small business assistance bill

Commends Native American, drought provisions

September 12, 2006

Washington, D.C. – The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee passed legislation today that would fine tune programs offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help more people and provide more support to the small businesses of Wyoming and the nation, said U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

The Small Business Administration Fiftieth Anniversary Reauthorization Act of 2003, S. 1375, would reauthorize the financial, entrepreneurial development and small business procurement programs administered by the SBA for three more years, beginning October 1.

"The SBA provides support to our small businesses in the form of advice, loan programs, and financing assistance needed to open a business' doors," said Enzi, a member of the Small Business Committee. "Reauthorizing the legislation will help teach another generation how to operate in the real world and compete with the rest of the business world."

Enzi was particularly pleased with two provisions in the bill that he said would have a positive impact on Wyoming.

One provision would give additional disaster authority to the SBA and expand the definition of a disaster to include drought and below average water levels in bodies of water that support small businesses. This would allow non-farm-related small businesses that have suffered economic harm caused by drought to apply for federal assistance. Currently, only agriculture and agriculture-related businesses are eligible for federal disaster assistance in relation to drought disasters.

Another provision would give Native Americans additional assistance. The Native American Small Business Development Program would provide specialized business development grants to tribal governments and tribal colleges to provide financial, management, and marketing education, including training and counseling.

The bill also establishes grants to provide business development training to Native American-owned small businesses through Small Business Development Centers and private non-profits with close ties to Native American communities; as well as grants to establish joint projects to provide "culturally- tailored" business development assistance to prospective and current owners of small businesses located on or near tribal lands.

The House is expected to introduce its own version of the bill.

Senator Enzi's statement appears below.

Statement of Senator Michael B. Enzi
S. 1375 - "Small Business Administration
50th Anniversary Reauthorization Act of 2003"
Small Business Committee
July 10, 2003



Thank you, Madame Chair, for the opportunity to speak at this morning's markup. As you know, the Small Business Committee is a personal favorite of mine, since its work allows me to bring my experience as a small businessman to the issues before us and share it with my colleagues as we work together to make a real difference in the lives of a lot of people in Wyoming and throughout the country.

It's an expression we've heard many times, but it's a great truth – small businesses really are the backbone of our economy. In my state of Wyoming, for example, small businesses comprise 96.5 percent of our businesses and that means they provide a lot of jobs to the people of my state.

Those jobs are made possible, to a large degree, by the assistance that is provided by the Small Business Administration. That is why I am pleased to be a part of our work on the Small Business Administration Fiftieth Anniversary Reauthorization Act of 2003. It is truly an historic moment as we set the course for the next fifty years and work to improve the programs upon which so many have come to rely all over the United States.

As I began to work on my remarks for today's hearing, I was thinking about the similarities between my support for small business and my love of fishing. Although the two may not seem to have much in common, when you think about it, the two are a lot alike, beginning with every small businessman's motto:

Give a man a fish and you will have fed him for the day. Teach a man to fish and with all the rods, reels and lures he needs to do it, you will have made a customer for a lifetime.

As I gave it some more thought, it occurred to me that the small businessman, just beginning to put his business together, is a lot like a fisherman.

Picture a fledgling businessman, caught up with a new idea, poised on the verge of opening his own business and hoping to catch the eye of the customer he just saw walking down the street. He is rather like a fisherman, standing on the water's edge, holding his line and lure in hand, hoping to catch the fish he just saw swimming in the river. For both, the golden rule of their endeavor, like so many others, is location, location, location.

Soon both will learn that it takes more than a flashy new idea to catch a customer, or a gimmicky lure to catch a cagey old fish.

Both bring their tools to the job at hand. The fisherman, with his rod and reel, line and sinker, and a beautiful river with which to challenge the fish who call it home.

The small businessman, on the other hand, has his skill and life experience, a flexible and strong business plan, good financing, innovation and a clever "lure" with which to attract the customers who live in the area. With the essential tools in place and a little luck – and a lot of perseverance – both the fisherman and the small businessman will "hook" and successfully land their catch which will help them to feed their families and increase their chance of success the next time they go fishing or open their doors for business.

That is why this legislation is so important. By reauthorizing this legislation, we will be helping to teach another generation how to "fish" in the real world and compete with the rest of the business world.

To continue the analogy, any fisherman knows where to go to buy the best lures and other equipment to give him an edge on the competition. Small Business people didn't always have that advantage. Now, thanks to the Small Business Administration (SBA), they do. The SBA provides support to our small businesses in the form of advice, loan programs, and assistance in the form of the financing that is needed to open a business's doors. Small Business Development Centers assist small businesses in the development of flexible and strong business plans. The next step is to provide a little innovation and creativity – but that's something we already have in abundance in Wyoming and throughout the nation.

As we consider the reauthorization of these programs that are vital to the small business community, I would like to mention two new programs that will have a positive impact on the businesses of Wyoming.

Under the provisions of this bill, additional disaster authority will be provided to the SBA. The bill also expands the definition of a disaster to include drought and below average water levels in bodies of water that support small businesses. The impact of drought on agriculture is clear to the average citizen.

What is unclear is how drought applies the brakes to tourism and to those who enjoy the recreation a normal water level supports. The provision I refer to authorizes emergency loans to non-farm-related small businesses that have suffered economic harm caused by the devastating effects of drought, but are falling through the cracks of federal assistance.

Currently, only agriculture and agriculture-related businesses are eligible for federal disaster assistance in relation to drought disasters. However, droughts adversely impact more than agricultural, forestry and livestock businesses. Small communities in Wyoming that flank reservoirs depend upon summer boating traffic and weekend recreationists to supplement their economy. Low water levels in reservoirs threaten the well-being of communities and crops alike. This provision offers equal treatment of small business drought victims by the SBA.

In addition, I am pleased with the inclusion of additional assistance to Native Americans in the bill. Native American entrepreneurial development poses unique challenges. Poverty and unemployment are rampant in Native American communities in my state and across the United States. To fight these diseases, small business development must occur at the local level and with methods that are sculpted for success in another culture.

The Native American Small Business Development Program will provide specialized business development assistance directly to the tribal governments and colleges to create their own Native American business centers. On reservations like the Wind River Reservation in central Wyoming, a Native American business center would be extremely well utilized and I will encourage the Wyoming tribes to develop one. The program will be successful because each center will exist due to active support from each tribe.

The program also recognizes current small business outreach to the tribes. For example, a Wyoming small business development center employs an individual that is based on the reservation. Within the bill, a pilot program authorizes grants to provide business development training and other services to Native American-owned small businesses through Small Business Development Centers, allowing Small Business Development Centers to build on previous success.

Today, just like that fisherman who is fine tuning his approach to make it possible for him to catch more fish, we are fine tuning the programs offered by the Small Business Administration to make it possible for them to help more people and provide more support to the small businesses of Wyoming and the nation.

Again, as the saying goes, give a man a fish and you will feed him for the day. Teach a man to fish and you will have a lot more to choose from the next time you go shopping.

For me, that is the purpose of the Small Business Administration. It teaches the small businessman how to run a profitable enterprise so that we all benefit from the choices they provide every time we take a trip to our town's Main Street to shop.

It also teaches our small businesses how to grow and expand so that more and more jobs are available to keep our local and state economies strong.

Strong state and local economies will help make our national economy grow and that's something I know we can all support and work for with the passage of this important legislation.

Thank you, Madame Chair.