WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado), a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, introduced a package of bills today to increase access to U.S. Small Business Administration resources for traditionally underserved individuals, communities and small businesses.
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In a statement from the senator’s office, Hickenlooper said the bills are meant to increase the participation of women and minorities as investment managers, give Native American small businesses a voice at the highest levels of the SBA, allow employee-owned cooperatives to qualify for SBA loans, and provide more resources for small businesses to switch to renewable energy.
“Running a small business is tough. It’s tougher when federal resources overwhelmingly go to a select group of people, businesses and places,” Hickenlooper said in a written statement. “We must break down barriers that diverse businesses and businesspeople face, and that’s exactly what these bills do.”
Hickenlooper’s four bills are:
- A measure to expand access to the SBA’s Small Business Investment Company by creating a new license category to allow qualified underrepresented investment managers to participate in the program. The senator said the newly licensed fund managers would be required to invest at least half of their capital in smaller enterprises and at least a quarter in rural areas.
- A bill to double the funding of the SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs and create an associate administrator position to set direction. The move would put the ONAA office on the same level as other divisions within the SBA. The new administrator would be charged with promoting policies and programs to address entrepreneurial capital access, business development and contracting needs of tribes and Native businesses.
- A bill to fix a technicality that bars member-run cooperatives from being eligible for SBA’s primary loan program. The loan program currently requires someone to personally guarantee repayment of the loan, which the each-member-one-vote structure of co-ops makes difficult. Instead of the guarantee, the SBA would be able to use documented proof of a co-op’s ability to repay using equity, cash flow and profitability as criteria.
- A measure to provide incentives to small businesses to make energy-efficient investments. The bill would nearly double — from $5.5 million to $10 million — the permitted loan amounts for businesses making energy-efficient upgrades under the SBA 504 loan program.