Bill That Boosts Spending On Small Business Programs Halfway Through Congress

Following the legislative process makes me all the more appreciative of the flexibility that defines small businesses.
Following the legislative process makes me all the more appreciative of the flexibility that defines small businesses.But far be it for me to argue with the U.S. Constitution. What you need to know, and good news for entrepreneurs: The long-delayed FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which includes a nice boost in funding for small-business programs and other SBA-related goodies, has made it through the House (245 yeas to 178 nays) and is now on the Senate's to-do list.

According to the House Committee on Small Business, the Omnibus Appropriations bill provides for:

  • $110 million for Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), up from the $97.2 million that Congress approved for the previous fiscal year.

  • A 25% increase in funding for the SBA's Microloan program, which is expected to generate $25 million in loans for small enterprises.
  • $1 million for a new Small Business Development Center entrepreneurship pilot program that provides counseling and assistance to veteran entrepreneurs.

  • A boost in funding for Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs), which assist veterans interested in self-employment ($1 million, according to this portion of the bill, PDF).

  • $1 million for the Small Business Sustainability Initiative, a newly created program that is aimed at providing helping small businesses become energy-efficient.

  • $5 million for the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME), up from a $2 million increase over last years funding. PRIME funds not-for-profit groups that offer training to low-income entrepreneurs.

"The funding in this bill means more fledgling firms will receive counseling to build successful business plans, more budding entrepreneurs will have access to microloans, and more Americans who want to start their own businesses will be able to do so," said Rep. Nydia M. Velzquez (D-NY), chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business, which two weeks ago held a hearing about entrepreneurial programs and how the counseling, resources, and tools they provide help small businesses succeed. "And at the end of the day, every $1 spent on these programs puts another $2.87 back into the economy. Thats a 287 percent return on investment, and just the kind of economic stimulus we need right now," she said at the time.

To the burning-the-midnight-oil rANT's point, President Obama's returned attention to small business is certainly welcome, but how will this funding truly address their main pain point? And that is, getting consumers to spend again.