The Bush budget for fiscal 2002 has angered democrats by eliminating funding for two SBA programs aimed to spur inner-city employment and business development.
New Markets Venture Capital program companies would manage and invest $150 million in small businesses and be eligible for $30 million for technical assistance in using the capital. The BusinessLINC program would provide $7 million to expand B2B between big and small businesses and offer dispensations in low-income and Native American communities. Bush says his budget will provide for companies in those communities, "making a separate small SBA discretionary spending program unnecessary."
But Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), ranking Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, doesn't agree. Says Velazquez, "It makes no economic sense to kill the very programs that will help create jobs and economic growth in this country."
Got the Energy?
Small businesses overwhelmed by increases in energy costs would find relief with the Small Business Energy Emergency Relief Act (S. 295), which was sponsored by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and passed the Senate Small Business Committee on February 28. The bill would provide economic injury loans made directly by the SBA at interest rates of about 4 percent. At press time, no further action had been taken.
B2B or Not to Be
The first bill passed by the House this year seeks to improve the electronic links between buyers and suppliers. The Electronic Commerce Enhancement Act (H.R. 524) sets up a pilot program within the Manufacturing Extension Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Stephen Barlas is a freelance business reporter who covers the Washington beat for 15 magazines.