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Opening Statement of Senator Michael B. Enzi

July 27, 2006

Markup the Small Business Reauthorization and Improvements Act of 2006

Madame Chair, thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the reauthorization bill before us today. As you know, the Small Business Committee is a personal favorite of mine. My service on the Committee allows me to use my small business experience as we work together on policy issues that will make a real difference in the lives of many people in Wyoming and throughout the country.

Your legislation includes many new and important provisions that will assist small businesses in the coming years. Thank you for including the Small Business Compliance Assistance Enhancement Act of 2005 in the bill we are considering today. One of the reasons I came to Washington was to reduce federal red tape for small businesses. This provision would require an agency to prepare a compliance guide to assist small businesses in complying with a Federal rule whenever an agency determines that a Federal rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses.

I also appreciate the work that you and your staff did to help Senator Thune and I include our amendment in your bill that would authorize the Office of Native American Affairs to develop and publish a self-assessment tool for evaluation and implementation of best practices for economic development for Indian tribes. Native American entrepreneurial development poses unique challenges. Poverty and unemployment are rampant on Native American reservations in my state and across the United States. This amendment recognizes that it takes more than federal money to solve these problems. Each Indian tribe needs to be locally vested in a solution for it to work. This self-assessment tool would allow tribes to evaluate their own resources, needs and community objectives in order to reach their own solutions.

As each Indian tribe takes these steps, the programs in the Native American Small Business Development Program, which has also been included in this reauthorization, will be even more useful. They will offer opportunities to tribal governments and colleges to create their own Native American business centers to address business opportunities that these tribes have identified.

The program also recognizes current small business outreach to the tribes. For example, Wyoming’s 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 and Native American private, non-profit organizations, allowing them to build on previous successes.

Finally, I would like to mention the issue of allowing companies that are majority-owned by venture capital companies to participate in the SBIR program. I believe that Senator Bond will be introducing an amendment on this issue. The compromise that he will be offering is one that no one really likes and for that reason I believe it is a true compromise. It will allow these majority-backed company to participate in the SBIR program, but it will limit their participation so that rural small businesses, such as those in Wyoming will still be able to compete in a small business program.

The bill before us also includes the reauthorization of the entire SBIR program and it makes some very important and needed changes, such as increasing the percentage of the SBIR set-aside. However, I want to move forward with the markup. Madame Chair, I look forward to working through this bill here with you today and on to the Senate floor.