WASHINGTON – United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), and Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), sent a letter to the U.S. Small Business Administrator Karen G. Mills, encouraging the swift allocation of funds for the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership program that was included in the FY2010 appropriations bill.
“The FAST program was created to expand and improve the participation of small technology firms in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs by providing matching funds to states,” Senators Landrieu and Snowe said in the letter. “FAST funds are used within the states to raise awareness of SBIR and STTR, to provide technical assistance to firms participating in the programs, and to encourage commercialization of technology developed through the SBIR and STTR programs.”
The FY2010 Appropriations Bill includes $2 million for the FAST program. This funding represents the first funding the program has received in six years and was supported by both the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
“These outreach and technical assistance activities help increase the technological competitiveness of a state and foster the startup and growth of high-technology companies in order to strengthen and diversify local economies,” Sens. Landrieu and Snowe wrote. “Working with the states, the Small Business Administration could leverage the FAST program to raise awareness of the SBIR and STTR programs and stimulate job creation.”
“Furthermore, the FAST program proved successful in its mission, especially in rural areas, from its start in 2001 to 2004,” the Senators continued in the letter. “In Louisiana, for example, the state went from having less than $2 million in SBIR and STTR awards in 2000 to having more than $8 million in 2004, providing significant momentum and growth for the state’s high-tech industry. In Maine, the state more than doubled its awards (from 14 to 29) and more than tripled its funding (from $3 million to $9.6 million) during that same time. We believe that bringing the FAST program back to rural America is a critical component to allowing small businesses in under-invested areas to build the technological infrastructure they need to succeed.
In the letter to Administrator Mills, Senators Landrieu and Snowe requested by February 12, 2010, a timeframe for the Small Business Administration’s issuance of its program announcements, review, award selection, and disbursement of funds under the FAST program.