Lead Democrat on Small Business Committee includes provisions to support job creation by small defense firms 

(Washington, DC) – Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the lead Democrat on the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, and a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, included several provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to help small businesses create jobs and grow the economy.  The annual defense bill unanimously cleared the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

“Small businesses not only form the backbone of our economy, but also play a vital role in helping our military meet its mission and defend our nation,” said Shaheen.  “Enhancing the ability of small businesses to compete for business is a win-win—supporting job creation and providing value for defense agencies.  I am pleased this legislation includes my provisions to boost the small businesses that are critical to the defense industrial base.”

  • Help more small businesses qualify for the Historically Underutilized Business Zone program

The bill includes Shaheen’s legislation, the Invest in Rural Small Business Act, which expands a key small business program in rural New Hampshire and across the country.  The U.S. government is the world’s largest buyer of goods and services, but small businesses often have difficulty accessing the federal marketplace.  The amendment increases the ability of rural small businesses to qualify for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program. 

The current one-size-fits-all formula for determining a HUBZone leaves many otherwise eligible communities outside the program.  The law requires 3 percent of contracts be awarded annually to HUBZone firms, but in 2016, only 1.67 percent of federal contracting dollars were awarded to these businesses. 

Shaheen’s amendment expands the pool of HUBZone eligible communities and enhances the program’s ability to be a targeted economic development tool.  Shaheen introduced this legislation in April after being contacted by Costa Precision Manufacturing in Claremont, New Hampshire about difficulty qualifying for the HUBZone program.  After Shaheen’s intervention, Costa Precision became the state’s only manufacturing company to be a certified HUBZone business.

  •  Provide cybersecurity assistance and training for small business defense contractors

In order to secure sensitive defense technology, the Department of Defense recently issued a mandatory cybersecurity standard it expects all military contractors (large and small) to meet.  The complex cyber standard has proven to be challenging for many small businesses to understand and implement.

Shaheen’s amendment directs the Department of Defense to provide more outreach and low-cost cybersecurity assistance (through universities and other organizations) to small businesses handling military technology on non-federal information systems. 

The amendment was added after Milpower, a small aerospace and defense contractor in Belmont, New Hampshire, told Shaheen the Department of Defense was not providing adequate information about how to comply with the Pentagon’s new cybersecurity rules.

  • Include more small business products at American military retail exchanges

Shaheen’s amendment encourages military exchanges (retail stores), including the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) on 3,100 U.S. Army and Air Force installations worldwide, to select more small business suppliers for its convenience and department stores.

Shaheen contacted the Department of Defense and added the language after learning that Smoky Quartz Distillery in Seabrook, New Hampshire was unable to get AAFES to add its products to its marketplace and supply chain, even though it is a veteran-owned small business.

  • Streamline process to buy small business technology developed by Small Business Innovation Research program

SBA’s highly competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal research and development that has commercialization potential.  Shaheen’s amendment will make it easier for federal agencies to buy technology developed by innovative small businesses through the SBIR program. 

Last year, Shaheen extended the SBIR program for an additional five years.  Three New Hampshire small businesses recently received SBIR funding to develop cutting-edge energy technology, including: Ground Energy Support in Durham, Creare in Hanover, and Subsurface Insights in Hanover.