WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) today applauded the Senate’s unanimous adoption of two amendments designed to assist veteran entrepreneurs and enable Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) firms to commercialize their products. The amendments, both of which Senator Snowe sponsored with Senator John Kerry (D-MA), were added to pending Defense Authorization legislation (H.R. 1585) on September 25.

“I am so pleased that the Senate acted today to approve these critical amendments to assist veteran entrepreneurs and the small businesses that employ them, as well as companies that help supply our defense needs,” said Senator Snowe. “These amendments are both long overdue, and I hope they will be signed into law in the near future.”

The first amendment the Senate approved is designed to improve the programs and resources available to our nation’s veteran entrepreneurs and to the small businesses that employ our veterans. Among other provisions, the amendment would make vast improvements to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Military Reservist Economic Disaster Loan (MREIDL) program, which provides funds to businesses negatively impacted by a key employee’s deployment, and would create an interagency taskforce to address the needs of our nation’s veteran entrepreneurs. The amendment would also provide a grant program to help small businesses devise a plan to keep their enterprises in operation as their key employees deploy to duty, as well as increase the authorization of funding for the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development

“In recent years, our nation’s Guard and Reserve forces have selflessly answered the call to duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan,” Senator Snowe said. “In fact, there have been nearly 3,000 Guard and Reserve deployments from my home state of Maine to those two countries since September 11, 2001. As our Reservists continue to answer our nation’s call to duty, we must similarly fulfill our responsibility to help protect their livelihoods back home. This amendment takes a significant step toward achieving that goal.”

Finally, the Senate approved an Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Commercialization Pilot Program amendment filed by Senators Snowe and Kerry designed to assist SBIR firms to commercialize their products and, thereby, transition from federal funding to the open market. More specifically, this amendment would encourage Phase III awards by the Department of Defense’s major contracting agencies that participate in the SBIR program. The amendment also includes authorization of incentives to prime contractors for using SBIR technologies.

“The SBIR program has been tremendously successful in helping to develop the products of the future,” said Senator Snowe. “This common-sense amendment would not only establish a pilot program that would help SBIR firms to bring their products to the marketplace, but it would also encourage prime contractors to use those products.”

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