Carl Levin - Small Business Committee

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Senator Levin has always been a strong advocate for the interests of small businesses in Michigan. A senior member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Levin understands that small business is the heart of America's economic strength and job creation.

Small business is important to Michigan. In 1997, 98.5 percent of Michigan businesses were small businesses. Women-owned businesses are the fastest growing sector of small businesses in America and provide innumerable jobs and resources to the state of Michigan. Understanding the contribution of women-owned small businesses to economic growth and job expansion, Senator Levin helped win Senate passage of the Women's Business Centers Sustainability Act on Nov. 4, 1999, and the President signed this measure into law on Dec. 9, 1999 (Public Law 106-165). This law aims to strengthen the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Women's Business Centers in Michigan and across the nation which help entrepreneurs start and maintain successful businesses by providing such things as start-up help and financial expertise to women-owned businesses.

Because small businesses often have more difficulty gaining access to credit, Senator Levin has worked to increase the amount of SBA government-guaranteed loans that are made to small businesses, providing credit to those businesses that otherwise would not qualify for conventional bank loans.

Senator Levin has supported legislation that more than doubled the annual expensing allowances for small businesses. The Small Business Job Protection Act, enacted in the summer of 1996, will gradually increase the annual expensing allowance for businesses from $10,000 to $25,000 in 2003 and thereafter.

In his continued effort to achieve "good government" standards and accountability, Senator Levin won enactment of a landmark law requiring federal agencies to get competitive bids when buying goods or services, opening up the procurement process to new companies and saving taxpayers $40 to $50 billion over 10 years.

Senator Levin recognizes the important contribution made by small technology companies in innovative research and development breakthroughs. As a senior member of the Senate Small Business Committee, he worked to give these companies the ability to compete for a share of Federal government research and development. He helped win reauthorization and expansion of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, a billion-dollar effort to use small high-tech businesses to provide research and development to the government and to commercialize federal technologies. He helped lead the effort in the Senate to reauthorize the program in 2000. That reauthorization included a bill introduced by Senator Levin to increase the number of small businesses that can benefit from the SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) programs by instituting a volunteer mentoring program for small business owners who may not otherwise have access to the programs.

Senator Levin also worked to assist businesses to become Y2K compliant by cosponsoring a bill that has passed both houses of Congress establishing a special government-guaranteed loan program to guarantee loans made by private lenders to small businesses to make their own Y2K repairs or provide relief from economic injuries sustained as a result of Y2K problems. This program offers loans at more favorable terms than other government-guaranteed loans available to small businesses and it allows small businesses to defer interest for the first year. The bill's report language includes a Levin provision allowing the favorable terms of this lending program to be applied to loans already granted to small businesses that were used primarily for Y2K repairs but under less favorable terms than offered under this program.

Senator Levin worked to enact legislation to reduce the economic hardship created by the absence of active duty reservists from their jobs and businesses and to give Veterans access to the tools that will allow them to successfully open and expand small businesses.

Senator Levin supported the Veterans' Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999, which became law on Aug. 17, 1999 (Public Law 106-50). It is intended to help promote business endeavors of service-disabled veterans and veterans in general by: establishing an office of Veterans Business Development within SBA; creating the National Veterans Business Development Corporation to form and expand small businesses; creating an Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs; and providing economic relief to military reservists by including S.918 of which Senator Levin was an original cosponsor. Senator Levin is pleased the House and Senate acted quickly to pass this important legislation so that disabled veterans will have access to a wide range of programs that will assist them in successfully running small businesses, including gaining access to federal procurement contracts.

This legislation will also help military reservists who are called away from their jobs and businesses to serve the United States in any military operation with respect to Kosovo by allowing them to defer existing government guaranteed small business loans and giving them access to low interest rate government-guaranteed loans to bridge any financial gap that might arise out of their absence. It includes Senator Levin's suggestion that the benefits will apply to all qualified reservist who are demobilized as of March 24, 1999, not just those called up for Kosovo, as was originally drafted.

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