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Bill Battle

Can restructuring save a program that helps entrepreneurs but hurts the budget?

This story appears in the November 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

A Senior House Republican is leading efforts to replace an SBA VC program that has spilled copious red ink since the dotcom boom went bust. The Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Participating Securities (PS) program made speculative, mostly equity investments in entrepreneurial startups with little access to VC funds, either because of their locations (outside Silicon Valley, Boston and a few other places) or their business types (non-IT, nonsoftware, etc.). The supposedly self-supporting program has lost about $2.7 billion since the tech bubble burst.

The Bush administration wants to drop the program entirely. But Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, is trying to restructure it instead. He introduced the SBIC Participating Debenture Act of 2005 (H.R. 3429) in July. It would convert the PS program into a Participating Debentures (PD) program. SBICs would have to repay the SBA out of their revenue for the interest payments the SBA makes on their behalf to institutional investors, who buy debentures.

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