WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. John F. Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today held a successful mark-up to move Sen. Tim Johnson’s Native American Small Business Development Act, among other legislation, to the Senate floor.

The Native America Small Business Development Act, which was voted out of Committee by unanimous roll call vote, would create the Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) at the Small Business Administration, and two assistance programs to foster small-business development in Native American communities.

The ONAA, to be headed by an assistant administrator, will be given the responsibility of helping Native Americans and their communities start, operate, and grow small businesses, increase employment opportunities, take advantage of and seek out federal procurement opportunities, increase access to capital, and gain the necessary management and technical skills to be successful in the small-business marketplace.

The two assistance programs that would be established by the bill, the Native American Small Business Development Program and the Native American Development Grant Pilot Program, are designed to give Native Americans the tools and funding to survive and thrive in their small-business ventures.

To be authorized at $4 million a year, the Native American Small Business Development Program would be the SBA’s primary entity for offering Tribal Governments and Tribal Colleges resource assistance and grants to operate Native American Business Centers (NABCs).

The four-year, $2 million Native American Development Grant Pilot Program would offer funding to small business development centers and private nonprofits to provide culturally tailored business training to Native Americans. The individual grants for the program are capped at $100,000 a year and awarded for a period of two to four years.

The Native American Small Business Development Act is sponsored by Senators Johnson and Kerry and co-sponsored by Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), Gordon Smith (R-Oregon), and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and supported by numerous Native American organizations, including the National Indian Business Association, the National Congress of American Indians, and the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.

Other legislation voted out of Committee included the Small Business Drought Relief Act, the Small Business Federal Contractor Safeguard Act, the Combined 8(a) and HUBZone Priority Preference Act, the National Small Business Regulatory Assistance Act, the Small Business Procurement Ombudsman Act, and the Vocational and Technical Entrepreneurship Development Act.