WASHINGTON - United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, yesterday sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to sign an executive order returning the U.S. Small Business Administrator to a cabinet-level position within the first 100 days of his Administration. In December, Sens. Landrieu and Snowe each wrote letters to the then-President-Elect outlining their priorities for the SBA, including returning the Administrator to Cabinet-level status.

“Small businesses represent over 99 percent of all firms, employ half of all private sector workers, and most importantly, create approximately three-quarters of net new jobs each year,” the senators wrote. “As such, small businesses are not only the cornerstone of our economy but we believe they shall be the catalyst for our economy recovery. Because of this importance to the economic recovery of our nation, we write to urge your consideration of an executive order to return the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to cabinet-level status.”

Sens. Landrieu and Snowe emphasized the need for a more powerful SBA, as small businesses make up more than 99 percent of all firms in the United States.

“If empowered by a return to the cabinet, the SBA Administrator can be a more effective champion for our small businesses,” Sens. Landrieu and Snowe wrote. “In this difficult economic time, the SBA should be in a stronger position to help ease the ongoing credit crunch. The agency also would provide more effective oversight to ensure small businesses, including women-owned and veteran-owned businesses, receive their fair share of Federal contracting opportunities.”

Small businesses will play a crucial role in moving the country out of the current economic crisis, according to Sens. Landrieu and Snowe. They called on President Obama to elevate the SBA Administrator expeditiously to send a signal that small businesses will comprise a significant part of any economic recovery plan.

“We believe a great first step would be to return the SBA to the cabinet within the first 100 days. In the midst of the current economic crisis and the challenges ahead, this would send a clear signal to our small businesses that they will drive our nation out of this recession,” the senators concluded.