Mr. KERRY . Mr. President, let me say a few words about the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2000 and the managers' amendment that the Senate is considering today. While I applaud the House for their action to ensure the continuation of important Small Business Administration (SBA ) programs, the managers' amendment offered by Chairman BOND and myself includes key provisions extending and improving important SBA programs. This bill, with the inclusion of the managers' amendment, is comprehensive. It reauthorizes all of the SBA's programs, setting the funding levels for the credit and business development programs, and making improvements where needed. Without this legislation, the 504 loan program would shut down; the venture capital debenture program would shut down; and funding to the states for their small business development centers would be in jeopardy. The list goes on. I just can't emphasize enough how important this legislation is.

The SBA's contribution is significant. In the past eight years, the SBA has helped almost 375,000 small businesses get more than $80 billion in loans. That's double what it has loaned in the preceding 40 years since the agency's creation. The SBA is better run than ever before, with four straight years of clean financial audits; it has a quarter less staff, but makes twice as many loans; and its credit and finance programs are a bargain. For a relatively small investment, taxpayers are leveraging their money to help thousands of small businesses every year and fuel the economy.

Let me just give you one example. In the 7(a) program, taxpayers spend $1.24 for every $100 loaned to small business owners. Well known successes like Winnebago and Ben & Jerry's are clear examples of the program's effectiveness.

Overall, I agree with the program levels in the three-year reauthorization bill. As I said during the Small Business Committee's hearing on SBA's budget earlier in the year, I believe the program levels are realistic and appropriate based on the growing demand for the programs and the prosperity of the country. I also think they are adequate should the economy slow down and lenders have less cash to invest. Consistent with SBA's mission, in good times or bad, we need to make sure that small businesses have access to credit and capital so that our economy benefits from the services, products and jobs they provide. As First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton says, we don't want good ideas dying in the parking lot of banks. We also want a safety net when our states are hit hard by a natural disaster. There are many members of this Chamber, and their constituents, who know all too well the value of SBA disaster loans after floods, fires and tornadoes.

I will only take a short time to talk about some of important the provisions of this bill and our managers' amendment.

I am pleased that we are considering legislation to extend the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program for 8 more years as part of this comprehensive SBA reauthorization bill. As many of my colleagues may know, this program is set to expire on September 30, along with many other important programs critical to our nation's small businesses. While I am sorry the process has taken this long, in no way should it imply that there is not strong support for the SBIR program, the Small Business Administration, or our nation's innovative small businesses.

The SBIR program is of vital importance to the high-technology sector throughout the country. For the past decade, growth in the high-technology field has been a major source of the resurgence of the American economy we now enjoy. While many Americans know of the success of Microsoft, Oracle, and many of the companies, few realize that it is America's small businesses that are working in industries like software, hardware, medical research, aerospace technologies, and bio-technology that are helping to fuel this resurgence--and that it is the SBIR program that makes much of this possible. By setting aside Federal research and development dollars specifically for small high-tech businesses, SBIR is making important contributions to our economy.

These companies have helped launch the space shuttle; found a vaccine for Hepatitis C; and made B-2 Bomber missions safer and more effective.

Since the start of the SBIR program in 1983, more than 17,600 firms have received over $9.8 billion in assistance. In 1999 alone, nearly $1.1 billion was awarded to small high-tech firms through the SBIR program, assisting more than 4,500 firms.

The SBIR program has been, and remains, an excellent example of how government and small business can work together to advance the cause of both science and our economy. Access to risk capital is vital to the growth of small high technology companies, which accounted for over 40 percent of all jobs in the high technology sector of our economy in 1998. The SBIR program gives these companies access to Federal research and development money and encourages those who do the research to commercialize their results. Because research is crucial to ensuring that our nation is the leader in knowledge-based industries, which will generate the largest job growth in the next century, the SBIR program is a good investment for the future.

I am proud of the many SBIR successes that have come from my state of Massachusetts. Companies like Advanced Magnetics of Cambridge, Massachusetts, illustrate that success. Advanced Magnetics used SBIR funding to develop a drug making it easier for hospitals to find tumors in patients. The development of this drug increased company sales and allowed Advanced Magnetics to hire additional employees. This is exactly the kind of economic growth we need in this nation, because jobs in the high-technology field pay well and raise everyone's standard of living. That is why I am such a strong supporter and proponent of the SBIR program and fully support its reauthorization.

This legislation also includes H.R. 2614, which reauthorizes SBA's 504 loan program, which passed the Senate on June 14, 2000. The bill and our managers' amendment make common-sense changes to this critical economic development tool. These changes will greatly increase the opportunity for small business owners to build a facility, buy more equipment, or acquire a new building. In turn, small business owners will be able to expand their companies and hire new workers, ultimately resulting in an improved local economy.

Since 1980, over 25,000 businesses have received more than $20 billion in fixed-asset financing through the 504 program. In my home state of Massachusetts, over the last decade small businesses have received $318 million in 504 loans that created more than 10,000 jobs. The stories behind those numbers say a lot about how SBA's 504 loans help business owners and communities. For instance, in Fall River, Massachusetts, owners Patricia Ladino and Russell Young developed a custom packing plant for scallops and shrimp that has grown from ten to 30 employees in just two short years and is in the process of another expansion that will add as many as 25 new jobs.

Under this reauthorization bill, the maximum debenture size for Section 504 loans has been increased from $750,000 to $1 million. For loans that meet special public policy goals, the maximum debenture size has been increased from $1 million to $1.3 million. It has been a decade since we increased the maximum guarantee amount. If we were to change it to keep pace with inflation, the maximum guarantee would be approximately $1.25 million instead of $1 million. Instead of implementing such a sharp increase, we are striking a balance between rising costs and increasing the government's exposure and only seeking to increase the cap to $1 million.

I am pleased to say that this legislation also includes a provision assisting women-owned businesses, which I first introduced in 1998 as part of S. 2448, the Small Business Loan Enhancement Act. This provision adds women-owned businesses to the current list of businesses eligible for the larger public policy loans. As the role of women-owned businesses in our economy continues to increase, we would be remiss if we did not encourage their growth and success by adding them to this list.

The 504 loan program gets results. It expands the opportunities of small businesses, creates jobs and betters communities. It is crucial that it be reauthorized, and that is what this legislation does.

Another important program reauthorized under this legislation and strengthened by the managers' amendment is the Microloan program. I have long been a believer in microloans and their power to help people gain economic independence while improving the communities in which they live. This bill authorizes lower levels for the microloan program than the Administration requested. Of course, I would prefer to have full funding because I believe it is important to expand the program so that it is available everywhere. But, compromise is part of the legislative process, and a moderate increase is better than none at all. Nevertheless, I will be monitoring usage of microloan technical assistance and have told Chairman BOND that the Senate Committee on Small Business should revisit the issue before the end of the three-year reauthorization period if the level authorized is inadequate to meet program needs.

In addition to funding, our managers' amendment also makes important changes to the microloan program. We have heard from intermediaries and economic development activists around the country that with some administrative and legislative changes, this program could have a greater impact. This bill takes some important steps in the right direction. Right now we have 156 microlending intermediaries. This bill will permit the program to grow to 250 in FY 2001; to 300 in FY 2002, and to 350 in FY 2003. It also increases loan levels and technical assistance levels over three years. With more technical assistance, we will be able to increase the number of intermediaries, and therefore reach more borrowers in rural areas or large states. I also support the provision to raise the cap on microloans from $25,000 to $35,000, making it adequate to help micro-entrepreneurs in states and urban areas where operating costs are more expensive. Senator SNOWE's provision to establish $1 million for peer-to-peer training for microlenders is also included. I strongly support this concept because it will help the program grow while maintaining its high quality and low loss rates.

Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are also reauthorized under this legislation. SBDCs serve tens of thousands of small business owners and prospective owners every year. This bill takes a giant step to retool the formula that determines how much funding each state receives. This is an important program for all of our states and we want no confusion about its funding. Without this change, some states would have suffered sharp decreases in funding, disproportionate to their needs. I appreciate and am glad that the SBA and the Association of Small Business Development Centers worked with me to develop an acceptable formula so that small businesses continue to be adequately served.

This legislation also reauthorized the National Women's Business Council. For such a tiny office, with minimal funding and staff, it has managed to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the impact of women-owned businesses in our economy. It has also done pioneer work in raising awareness of business practices that work against women-owned business, such as some in the area of Federal procurement. Recently, they completed two studies that documented the world of Federal procurement and its impact on women-owned businesses.

According to the National Foundation for Women Business Owners, over the past decade, the number of women-owned businesses in this country has grown by 103 percent to an estimated 9.1 million firms. These firms generate almost $3.6 trillion in sales annually and employ more than 27.5 million workers. With the impact of women-owned businesses on our economy increasing at an unprecedented rate, Congress relies on the Council to serve as its eyes and ears as it anticipates the needs of this burgeoning entrepreneurial sector. Since it was established in 1988, the bipartisan Council has provided important unbiased advice and counsel to Congress.

This Act recognizes the Council's work and reauthorizes it for three years, from FY 2001 to 2003. It also increases the annual appropriation from $600,000 to $1 million. The increase in funding will allow the council to: support new and ongoing research; produce and distribute reports and recommendations prepared by the Council; and create an infrastructure to assist states develop women's business advisory councils, coordinate summits and establish an interstate communication network. The Historically Underutilized Business Zone, or ``HUBZone'' program, which passed this Committee in 1997, has tremendous potential to create economic prosperity and development in those areas of our Nation that have not seen great rewards, even in this time of unprecedented economic health and stability. This program is similar to my New Markets legislation in that it creates an incentive to hire from, and perform work in, areas of this country that need assistance the most. This bill would authorize the HUBZone program at $10 million for the next 3 years, which is $5 million above the Administration's request.

Additionally, the managers' amendment included very important provisions to include those areas which were inadvertently missed when this legislation was crafted--namely, Indian tribal lands. I appreciate the willingness of the Committee on Indian Affairs to work with our Committee to create HUBZone opportunities in the states of Alaska and Hawaii, and in other Indian tribal lands.

The HUBZone section does not contain any provision addressing the interaction of the HUBZone and 8(a) minority contracting programs. I believe that the 8(a) program is an important and necessary tool to help minority small businesses receive access to government contracts. The Chairman and I agree that there is a need to enhance the participation of both 8(a) and HUBZone companies in Federal procurement. It is my intention that the Senate Committee on Small Business consider the issue of enhancing small business procurement in the next Congress.

The Senate managers' amendment also includes a provision relating to SBA's cosponsorship authority. This authority allows SBA and its programs to cosponsor events and activities with private sector entities, thus leveraging the Agency's limited resources. The managers' amendment extends the authority for three additional years. This provision also adds ``information and education'' to the types of assistance that can be provided to small businesses by public and private sector organizations working with the SBA . This provision was recommended by the SBA as an effective change to training programs that are jointly run by the SBA and partner organizations.

Mr. President, let me conclude by reminding my colleagues that all of our states benefit from the success and abundance of small businesses. This legislation makes their jobs a little easier. I ask my colleagues for their support of this important legislation.