WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair, Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, today praised President Obama’s new National Export Initiative, which aims to double American exports over the next five years and support two million jobs here at home. In a speech at the National Press Club today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced some details on the plan, which President Obama first mentioned in his state of the union address last week.

The initiative will: improve coordination among federal agencies and especially between the Export-Import bank and the Small Business Administration (SBA); include the SBA as part of an Export Promotion Cabinet to report directly to the President; and boost small businesses’ ability to gain access to capital they need to help export their goods and services and create jobs.

“The National Export Initiative is exactly what we need to improve our Main Street businesses’ ability to enter and expand into the global marketplace,” Sen. Landrieu said. “With the world at their fingertips, exporting gives small businesses the opportunities they need to survive and grow at a time when sales at home are low, turning pink slips into pay checks for American workers. I thank the Administration for taking this issue seriously and look forward to working with SBA Administrator Mills and the other agency heads to ensure small business exporting takes a greater role in our national agenda.”

“Ensuring that American entrepreneurs are able to successfully compete in the global marketplace and create and retain jobs here at home must be a vital priority of this Congress and this Administration,” said Ranking Member Snowe. “I applaud the Administration’s National Export Initiative which will improve the current climate in which less than one percent of small businesses export. Combined with swift passage of legislation I introduced with Chair Landrieu in December to bolster Federal assistance to small businesses seeking to expand into foreign markets, this proposal can have an immediate impact in hastening a durable economic recovery.”

Senators Snowe and Landrieu introduced, and the Small Business Committee unanimously passed, the Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act (S. 2862) in December. This bill would improve access to loans and counseling programs for small exporters and enhance knowledge and inter-agency coordination of existing federal export assistance resources. To read more about the bill, please click here.

The Senators also requested a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report investigating inter-agency coordination as it relates to small exporters. To view the Senators’ request, please click here.

To read Commerce Secretary Gary Locke’s speech to the National Press Club today on the National Export Initiative, please click here.