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Lasers & Sources

Obama signs SBIR extension; small business grants approved by House

3 November 2009

On October 30, President Obama signed a stop-gap measure to keep the Small Business Administration (SBA) and various expiring SBA Programs in operation through January 31, 2010. Included in the extension through January 31, 2010 are the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and the related Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR). The U.S. Senate passed its version of the extension on October 26 when it adopted S. 1929 by unanimous consent. The Senate extension would have funded both SBA and the SBIR Program through April 30, 2010. The House agreed to the extension, but wanted an earlier date of January 31, 2010. The Senate agreed to the House timetable.

Hill staffers have told SPIE that hearings over differences in the SBIR and STTR Programs between the Senate and House will occur early next year. According to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the reauthorization "ensures that the agency has the stability it needs to provide our innovators and job creators the assistance they need to remain successful. While we continue to make progress on all of our reauthorization measures -- SBIR/STTR, SBA's loans and venture capital programs, contracting assistance, and management counseling -- this temporary reauthorization will help keep America's 29 million small businesses running through the holiday season."

U.S. House pulls back on SBIR grants extension (New Hampshire Business Review)

In a separate action, the House passed and sent to the Senate H.R. 3854, overhauling the Small Business Administration's (SBA) capital access programs. The bill is expected to support $44 billion in affordable lending and investment for small firms every year, saving or creating 1.3 million jobs annually.

Lawmakers accepted an amendment to the bill by Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.) to add photonics technology to the list of targeted industries eligible to receive federal grants under a new early-stage investment program.

House Small Business Committee chair Nydia Velázquez, D-NY, said the update is critical to each stage of small business development. "For the aspiring entrepreneur, it opens new avenues for seed capital and microloans. For the mid-market venture, it provides fresh funds for investment. And for the established business, it creates room for targeted risk and innovation."

House Approves Legislation Expanding Small Business Access to Capital (press release)

Earlier article:

The United States Senate on 26 October passed legislation to temporarily extend Small Business Administration (SBA) programs through 30 April 2010. S.1929 provides for a clean extension of all SBA programs. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, issued the following statement on the passage of the extension:

"A six-month extension of the SBA and its programs - including the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs -- ensures that the agency has the stability it needs to provide our innovators and job creators the assistance they need to remain successful. While we continue to make progress on all of our reauthorization measures - SBIR/STTR, SBA's loans and venture capital programs, contracting assistance, and management counseling -- this temporary reauthorization will help keep America's 29 million small businesses running through the holiday season."

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.

SOURCE U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship