WASHINGTON – The Washington, D.C., publication The Hill today ran an op-ed on their Congress Blog by United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., on her recently-introduced bill to increase small business trade opportunities. S.1196, the “Small Business International Trade Enhancements Act of 2009,” improves the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of International Trade to help create jobs and get the economy back on track.

In conjunction with the bill, Sen. Landrieu will host a field hearing in New Orleans on June 30 to further explore the topic and to hear from Louisiana businesses that could be affected.

Louisiana newspapers are invited to reprint the op-ed in its entirety.

The op-ed is available online at: http://blog.thehill.com/2009/06/15/small-exporters-keep-america-competitive-sen-mary-landrieu/

The full text of the op-ed is below:

Small exporters keep America competitive
By: Sen. Mary Landrieu

With cash registers not ringing like they used to, trade is becoming a practical solution for small businesses looking to survive and grow.

Small businesses already play a vital role in America’s trade and commerce, representing 97 percent of all exporters. Yet, with only one percent of small firms exporting their goods—making up slightly more than a quarter of the country’s export volume—trade remains dominated by larger businesses.

Entrepreneurs from across the country have told me that available services to help them enter the trade market and remain internationally competitive are in need of vital, but simple, changes. That is why I’ve introduced the Small Business International Trade Enhancements Act, which makes key improvements to some of the export assistance and trade programs offered by the Small Business Administration. The bill increases the number of trade specialists available to aid small exporters and helps to ensure that small firms have more opportunities to grow their businesses by expanding into international markets.

Earlier this year, I, along with Small Business Committee Ranking Member Snowe and Senator Schumer, asked United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk to create an Assistant Trade Representative focused exclusively on small business. This bill reasserts my call for the position to help raise the profile of small firms and ensure that the interests of these entrepreneurs are represented during trade negotiations.

To raise additional awareness of small business trade opportunities and further explore needed changes, I’ll be holding a field hearing in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 30.

As our nation digs out of the economic crisis, small business trade should be a top priority. What helps our entrepreneurs helps our entire economy—every $1 billion of exports creates more than 14,000 high-paying American jobs. By creating jobs and lessening the trade deficit, an increase in small business trade will help get us out of this recession and make our nation better able to compete in the global marketplace.