WASHINGTON – The United States Senate passed a bill last night sponsored by Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, to temporarily extend the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) programs through July 31, 2009. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives earlier yesterday. Specifically, the bill extends the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which would have expired on Friday, giving Congress more time to pass a comprehensive bipartisan bill that will strengthen and improve the SBIR program and provide long-term stability for the program. SBIR is necessary for the planning purposes of agencies and the business models of our small, high-technology firms.

“Extending the SBA’s programs is yet another sign that the Senate is committed to giving entrepreneurs the resources they need to help boost our economy,” said Chair Landrieu. “The SBIR program is especially important as innovation spurs growth and job creation and leads to advanced technology, like clean energy and life-saving therapies and devices. This extension will allow the agencies to disburse the awards firms have been waiting for to start and continue important research. I look forward to working with Ranking Member Snowe to pass a bipartisan SBA reauthorization and allow the new Administration to help small businesses through the financial crisis.”

“It is disappointing that last Congress we were unable to pass a long-term reauthorization bill for vital SBA programs,” said Ranking Member Snowe. “Small businesses must be able to rely on the SBA’s lending, entrepreneurial development, contracting and innovation programs to help ensure their stability and future growth. I look forward to working with Chair Landrieu to fashion bipartisan legislation to make this goal a reality this Congress.”

Small firms employ 41 percent of the nation’s high-tech workers and generate 13 to 14 times more patents per employee than large firms. The SBIR program alone has generated more than 84,000 patents and millions of jobs. Eleven federal agencies participate in the SBIR program – including the Department of Defense and National Science Foundation – allocating 2.5 percent of their extramural research and development dollars for the program.