View Release on Sen. Ernst's Website HERE.
“It is critical rural and Midwestern veteran-owned small businesses have a fair shot accessing SBA resources.”
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a combat veteran and Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, led a hearing to increase the effectiveness of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) veterans’ business development programs in meeting the challenges faced by veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners. Ernst heard directly from Iowans Lisa Shimkat, state director of the Iowa Small Business Development Center, and Dustin Rhoades, CEO and owner of Ability Tech, about the difficulties Iowa’s veteran entrepreneurs face in navigating SBA resources.
During the hearing, Ernst discussed her Stop Stolen Valor for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Contractors Act, a provision included in the National Defense Authorization Act, that works to reduce fraud and stop stolen valor in the SBA’s service-disabled veteran-owned small business contracting program. Ernst also advocated for her bipartisan VET Actto reauthorize the SBA’s Boots to Business program and help America’s servicemembers succeed in small business and entrepreneurship after their time in the military.
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Ranking Member Ernst’s opening remarks:
“Coming out of our Veterans Day weekend, and I hope everybody was able to celebrate that day with their loved ones, I am grateful for the opportunity to examine how the Small Business Administration can better serve our 1.7 million veteran-owned small businesses.
“As a combat veteran, and a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, I want to take a moment to thank our country’s veterans for their selfless service. I also want to recognize the families of those who have served.
“In the Senate, I have focused on ensuring our veterans have access to critical mental health services and am committed to holding the VA and other agencies accountable for recent telework practices that have created major department failures and have left calls from our veterans unanswered.
“As the Ranking Member of this Committee, I am charged with ensuring our veteran small businesses, especially in our rural areas, have access to the more than 25 million dollars in technical services and resources provided by the SBA’s veterans business development office.
“Veteran entrepreneurs are found in every segment of our economy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey, over 99% of all veteran-owned businesses are small businesses. In 2019, my home state of Iowa had over 16,000 veteran-owned businesses.
“It is critical rural and Midwestern veteran-owned small businesses have a fair shot accessing SBA resources. My bill with a fellow veteran, Senator Duckworth, to reauthorize the SBA’s Boots to Business program is pending Senate passage. It also includes language that will ensure every servicemember population, including the National Guard, is equally weighted when SBA determines where to place new Veteran Business Outreach Centers.
“In addition, I have fought to reduce fraud and stop stolen valor in the SBA’s service-disabled veteran-owned small business contracting program by including in the National Defense Authorization Act a provision that encourages agencies to award more federal contracts to certified, veteran-owned small businesses, discouraging awards made to self-certified firms.
“Veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners are an important piece of our communities. I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you about the challenges faced by veteran small business owners, and exploring how SBA can better meet your needs.”