WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) praised the Senate’s passage of Fiscal Year 2008 omnibus appropriations legislation (H.R. 2764) that would significantly increase funding for critical Small Business Administration (SBA) programs.  The legislation would provide additional resources to the SBA’s core initiatives, including the Microloan, Small Business Development Center, and Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) programs.  While Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) would receive added funding, Senator Snowe expressed her concern that the program was left shortchanged and that no new centers will open in 2008.
“I am pleased to report that the SBA’s small business programs will receive critical and substantial funding increases this year,” said Senator Snowe.  “The bill the Senate approved would boost funding for the SBA’s core programs by $40 million, giving the Agency additional resources to assist small businesses to do what they do best – create jobs and economic growth.  In particular, I am delighted that Congress saw fit to boost funding for the HUBZone program to assist under-served communities, as well as for Small Business Development Centers, which play such an integral role in helping new businesses get off the ground.” 
The Fiscal Year 2008 omnibus appropriations bill would provide added resources to the following SBA programs:
  • Microloans:  The Microloan Program will receive $2 million while the technical assistance program is funded at $15 million, an increase of $700,000 and over $2 million, respectively, over FY 2007 spending levels. 
  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs): The SBDC program will receive $97.1 million, an increase of over $11 million from Fiscal Year 2007.
  • HUBZones: The HUBZone program will receive $2.1 million, an increase of over $200,000 from Fiscal Year 2007.  Significantly, report language accompanying the omnibus encourages the SBA to continue to examine ways to enable certain currently excluded rural areas to be designated as HUBZones.
  • 7j: The 7j program, a procurement technical assistance program, will receive $2.3 million, an increase of almost $1 million from Fiscal Year 2007.
Finally, although WBCs will receive $13 million, an increase of $500,000 from Fiscal Year 2007, Senator Snowe viewed this funding boost as inadequate.  In previous letters to Senate appropriators, Snowe had requested that WBCs receive $16.5 million in funding. 
“The low level of WBC funding will create serious shortfalls for the program, as approximately 20 graduated centers return to the program in 2008,” said Senator Snowe.  “As a result of this underinvestment, existing WBCs will receive significantly less grant money, and no new centers will open in 2008.  I will work to see that WBCs receive more funding next year as part of the Fiscal Year 2009 budget process.”