WASHINGTON – Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today announced the unanimous Senate passage of the Small Business Administration 50th Anniversary Reauthorization Act of 2003 (S.1375).

Kerry co-sponsored the legislation, which reauthorizes the programs of the Small Business Administration through fiscal year 2006, with Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The bill will provide U.S. small businesses more than $108 billion for loan guarantees, venture capital investments, and business counseling and training over three years.

“The SBA and its many successful initiatives are tremendously important to small businesses, and with the passage of this legislation we have demonstrated our intentions to help America’s small businesses weather this economy,” said Kerry. “It is particularly important in this slumping economy that we do everything we can to foster the creation and growth of small businesses, which are our country’s best job creators.”

The legislation incorporates several small business assistance bills and initiatives introduced by Kerry previously this year, including:

· the Child Care Lending Pilot Act of 2003 (S. 822), creating a pilot program extending the SBA’s 504 plant and equipment loan program to include non-profit child care providers;

· the Small Business Federal Contractor Safeguard Act (S. 633), implementing a two-tiered approach to close the loopholes that have allowed agencies to bundle contracts, and limit federal contracting opportunities for small businesses;

· the Microloan Program Improvement Act of 2001 (S. 174), designed to make the SBA Microloan Program more flexible to meet credit needs, more accessible to micro-entrepreneurs across the nation, and more streamlined for lenders to make loans and provide management assistance;

· the Native American Small Business Development Act (S. 1126), making statutory the Office of Native American Affairs at SBA, expanding on the previously established Tribal Business Information Center (TBIC) program at SBA and establishing two pilot grant programs to assist Native American communities; and

· the Small Business Drought Relief Act of 2003 (S. 318), directing the SBA to extend disaster loans to non-farm related small businesses affected by drought in declared drought disaster areas.

In addition, the legislation secures the Women’s Business Centers by making permanent the Women’s Business Centers Sustainability Pilot established by Kerry in 1999.