WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship yesterday introduced S.1832, “The Small Business Access to Capital Act.” This bill - co-sponsored by Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Senators Ben Cardin of Maryland, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Barbara Boxer of California, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania-increases small business loan limits and improves access to capital for small business owners.

“We must do everything in our power to help our nation’s innovators and job creators,” Senator Landrieu said. “Ensuring small businesses have the access to capital they need is the first, and perhaps most critical, step. In hearings, roundtables and other meetings with small business owners and lenders, I have heard time and time again that the current small business loan limits do not adequately meet their needs. To answer their urgent call for help, I have introduced legislation which raises the limits on small business loans to as high as $5.5 million. With small businesses making up the largest source of employment in this country, and the national unemployment rate now almost 10 percent, changes like those in this bill are vital to the success of our small businesses, the continued recovery of our nation and America’s future competitiveness.”

“Providing small business owners with the loans to keep their shelves stocked and their payrolls going is critical in tough economic times,” said Senator Kerry.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, but sadly, they are often the ones that bear the brunt of an economic downturn,” said Senator Harkin. “President Obama is working to increase capital to our small businesses, and with this legislation, Congress too is doing its part to provide the necessary support to this plan.”

“My top priority has long been to make it easier for small businesses to get the tools they need to survive and thrive. The legislation we are introducing is a sensible and fiscally responsible way to pump essential credit back into America’s small business. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Small Business Committee and the entire Senate to provide the support and resources small businesses in Maryland and around the country need,” said Senator Cardin.

“Small businesses create jobs and stimulate local economies, and will play an important role in leading us out of this recession,” said Senator Shaheen. “It is essential that we provide the capital business owners need so that they can keep their doors open, hire more employees and grow their businesses in the changing economic environment, and this legislation will do just that.”

Senator Boxer said, “America’s small businesses are the key to a successful recovery. By increasing lending to small businesses, we will not only help them grow, we will also create jobs.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy in Pennsylvania and across the nation,” said Senator Casey. “Throughout my travels in Pennsylvania, countless small business owners have expressed concern about access to capital. This legislation will help thaw credit markets for small businesses. We need to get our economy moving again and this effort should help create jobs quickly.”

The bill, would:

  • Increase the maximum 7(a) loan to $5 million (up from a maximum of $2 million).
  • Increase the maximum 504 loan to $5.5 million (up from a maximum of $1.5 million).
  • Increase the maximum microloan to $50,000 (up from a maximum of $35,000).
  • Enhance refinancing of 504 loans.
  • Allow microloan intermediaries to have greater access to technical assistance grants.
  • Increase the amount that a New Market Venture Capital Company can invest in any one company, helping fast-growing businesses located in areas with chronic underemployment.
  • Remove Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) contracting exemption that was included in the Recovery Act.
  • Allow ARC loans to be used to help borrowers with existing 7(a) loans.

President Obama announced yesterday initiatives that would help free up small business credit lines to improve access to capital and create jobs. Details of the president’s announcement can be viewed here.

Senator Landrieu’s floor statement on the “The Small Business Access to Capital Act” can be viewed here.

The text of the bill can be viewed by clicking here