WASHINGTON –Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) introduced legislation today to provide financial relief as well as increased economic opportunities to America's veterans and reservists who want to start or expand a small business.

The Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2007 creates a new, non-collateralized loan of up to $100,000 for businesses harmed by the deployment of a key employee. This bill also fixes a program designed to provide reservist dependent businesses access to low interest loans through the SBA's disaster loan program, expanding the application period for these loans and creating a method of pre-consideration so that businesses can apply for and access the capital they need prior to incurring financial hardship. For small reservist-dependent firms that are unable to take on additional debt, the bill would provide grants of up to $25,000 contingent upon the business providing a viable business plan. Finally, the bill would authorize increased resources for the Small Business Administration's Office of Veterans Business Development.

"When a reservist has to shut his business down because his credit plunged while he was serving in Iraq, Washington isn't keeping its promise to veterans," said Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "Many veterans and reservists choose to continue to contribute to our nation through entrepreneurship, but that transition is not always an easy one to make. My legislation will provide increased training and assistance and help restore some sense of economic security while troops are deployed and when they return."

"The men and women of our Armed Forces perform the ultimate job of protecting this country. It is our obligation to provide these men and women with ample opportunities when seeking civilian employment. This legislation would improve opportunities for members of the reserve component and veterans to establish and maintain successful small businesses," Hagel said.

Kerry also released a comprehensive report today outlining the obstacles facing veteran and reservist entrepreneurs and including specific recommendations for supporting veterans and reservists. This report found that recently discharged veterans are experiencing higher unemployment rates, that reservists are experiencing high rates of income loss during deployment, and that a smaller percentage of small business loans are going to veterans. These findings represent the driving force behind the need for this legislation.

The report calls for increased oversight of federal contracting and considering new steps to increase contracting opportunities for service disabled veterans. Kerry will look at addressing contracting issues in a comprehensive way later this year.

To read the report, please visit: https://www.sbc.senate.gov/lettersout/070328-VeteranReservistREPORT.pdf.