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Walk This Way With more funding, SBDCs can lead you in the right direction.

By Stephen Barlas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Small businesses may soon have access to a new translationservice--not for when they need to pore over foreign languageimport rules, but rather to get help from Small BusinessDevelopment Centers on deciphering the mumbo-jumbo that oftencharacterizes small-business regulations. Rep. John Sweeney's(R-NY) National Small Business Regulatory Assistance Act of 2005(H.R. 230) has passed both the House and Senate in previousCongresses; 2005 may be the year it lands on President Bush'sdesk for signing.

There are now 63 Lead SBDCs--one or more in each state, theDistrict of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, Samoa and the U.S. VirginIslands-with a network of more than 1,100 service subcenters. TheSBA provides 50 percent or less of the operating funds for eachstate SBDC.

Currently, SBDCs provide limited federal regulatory counseling,but the Sweeney bill would expand that role and establish a new $5million-a-year grant program, which would feed a minimum of$200,000 a year to SBDCs in 20 competitively selected states. Moreimportant, the legislation would drape a cloak of confidentialityover all information offered by entrepreneurs seeking advice, plusthe advice they receive from the SBDC.

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