Mr./Madame President, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has provided critical financial assistance and counseling to America’s small businesses since 1953. The services and assistance provided through SBAs programs have been pivotal to this country’s economic growth and have helped thousands of American entrepreneurs realize their dream of starting and growing a successful business. In this time of economic uncertainty, reauthorization of these entrepreneurial development programs is essential to moving our nation forward.

What helps our entrepreneurs helps our entire economy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms, employ more than half of the workforce and account for half of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Small business management and technical assistance can potentially help millions of small businesses by teaching entrepreneurs and small business owners fundamental principles and practices regarding cash flow, cost management, how to access to capital and effective business planning. The SBA, through its resource partners such as Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and others, not only provides technical assistance and information to potential and current small business owners, but helps focus this nation’s entrepreneurial spirit into concrete economic growth.

As Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I have heard from small business owners across the country. They’ve told me that the programs and services currently offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) provide access to important resources that enable them to start, grow and expand their businesses. But more can and must be done to help these entrepreneurs. Through an extensive reauthorization of the entrepreneurial development programs within the Small Business Act, I believe that we can dramatically improve the tools available to small business concerns while simultaneously growing and strengthening our economy.

That is why today I am introducing the Entrepreneurial Development Act of 2009. This legislation will provide SBA resource partners with the tools they need to effectively serve small businesses, giving them more opportunities to help lead the nation back toward economic prosperity.

Before I discuss details of this bill, I first wish to thank Senator Snowe for her continued leadership on small business issues and working with me on this bipartisan effort. Over the past three congresses, the reauthorization of these programs has continued to receive support on both sides of the aisle, demonstrating the importance of reauthorizing essential entrepreneurial development programs.

SBA is utilizes resource partners such as SBDCs, SCORE, WBCs and others to ensure that we are growing the nation’s economy through entrepreneurial development. In 2007, with a modest federal investment of approximately $97 million in assistance, SBDC clients generated nearly $220 million in additional federal revenues. Many of the small businesses that received assistance from SBDC’s attributed their success to assistance offered by the SBDC. Nationally, this economic activity resulted in approximately $2.26 in revenue for every federal dollar expended.

This level of return on investment is not unique to SBDCs. According to an SBA report to Congress, SCORE helped create more than 19,000 new small businesses in 2007 at a cost of $29 per business and helped create more than 25,000 new jobs each year.

These programs also provide essential information, training and assistance to a broad and diverse cross-section of communities throughout the country, and serve to further grow a variety of industries. Resource partners such as WBCs and initiatives such as the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) are dedicated to serving clients who are economically and socially disadvantaged, providing tools and resources to small businesses in those communities that are most in need. According to a study sponsored by the Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC), two-thirds of WBC clients have household incomes of less than $50,000 and 42 percent are women of color. These programs serve communities with limited access to capital and educational opportunities and provide them with the tools and information they need to start and manage a successful business.

The reauthorization of these programs is critical to effectively provide entrepreneurs with essential assistance and resources to start a successful business. The legislation will also create opportunities for veterans and service disabled small business owners. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, there are more than 23.8 million veterans in the country, with hundreds of new veterans returning home from service in Iraq and Afghanistan each day. Many of these returning soldiers become entrepreneurs to support themselves and rebuild their lives after long deployments, which also serves to create new jobs in their communities.

Since the passage of “The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999,” the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development has been working to provide technical assistance and support to those veterans who have served our country and returned to start or grow a small business. This legislation seeks to ease their transition by providing business counseling and technical assistance through a new network of Veterans Business Centers, modeled after Women’s Business Centers and Small Business Development Centers. The Veterans Business Center Program will provide services not only to returning veterans and service disabled veterans, but also to the families, spouses and surviving spouses of these heroic men and women.

The 111th Congress will be the third consecutive Congress during which comprehensive legislation reauthorizing and improving the SBA’s Entrepreneurial Programs has been introduced. Ranking Member Snowe introduced S. 3778 in the 109th Congress and former Chairman John Kerry introduced S. 1671 and S. 2920, a bill to which I was a co-sponsor, during the 110th Congress. In each previous Congress, this legislation was well received and passed unanimously out of Committee; however, these bills stalled before the full Senate. As Chair of the Small Business Committee this Congress, it is a top priority of mine to finally get this legislation passed and ensure that during this time of economic uncertainty, we are able to provide small businesses with the tools they need to grow and expand their businesses. With this in mind, I will work closely with Ranking Member Snowe and the other members of the Committee in the coming months to get this legislation to the President’s desk.

Thank you. I ask that my statement and a copy of the legislation appear in the Record.