May 8, 2019 - Issue: Vol. 165, No. 76 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 1st Session
NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS SMALL BUSINESS ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 76
(Extensions of Remarks - May 08, 2019)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E560] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS SMALL BUSINESS ACT ______ HON. GREGORIO KILILI CAMACHO SABLAN of the northern mariana islands in the house of representatives Wednesday, May 8, 2019 Mr. SABLAN. Madam Speaker, today, I introduce the Northern Mariana Islands Small Business Act, which would ensure small businesses in my district have access to the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Lead Center grant program, the Federal and State Technology (FAST) partnership grant program and the Microloan program. The Marianas are the only U.S. jurisdiction not included in these programs, which help small businesses access the knowledge and capital necessary to succeed and compete for federal contracting opportunities. Last fall, our islands were struck by two catastrophic natural disasters. Typhoon Mangkhut and Super Typhoon Yutu, the second most powerful storm ever in United States history, caused widespread destruction of homes, businesses, schools and infrastructure. Under presidential disaster declarations, the SBA set up temporary disaster recovery centers on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to assist small businesses to apply for loans and other funds to cover damages resulting from the storms. We are grateful for the SBA's assistance during these disasters. However, all SBA disaster outreach centers in the Marianas are now closed and our economy is projected to take years to fully recover. The SBA estimates there are over 1,700 small businesses in the Marianas which employ over 18,000 people. These businesses and employees do not have access to the full range of SBA programs to help them fully recover. My bill would correct that by ensuring access on the same basis as their counterparts across the nation, many of whom are also recovering from natural disasters. Under my bill, the Marianas can apply to establish a Lead SBDC, which would make available around $600,000 in renewable funding to expand the reach and capacity of the existing SBDC service center on Saipan. With additional funding, small businesses on Saipan, Tinian and Rota will have better access to free or low-cost services such as incubator workspaces for entrepreneurs, assistance with loan applications, business planning, operations, personnel administration, marketing, export assistance, sales and other areas required for small business growth and success. The bill would benefit aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Marianas who are not able to access conventional loans at commercial banks. This legislation would provide them access to the SBA's Microloan program which provides loans up to $50,000 typically not offered by banks for working capital or the acquisition of materials, supplies, or equipment. In addition, the SBA microloan program, which is designed to assist women, low-income, veteran, and minority entrepreneurs, provides marketing, management, and technical assistance to borrowers. The Northern Mariana Islands Small Business Act would also help our small businesses participate in federal research and development opportunities. The bill includes the Marianas in the SBA's FAST partnership program which funds outreach and technical assistance to small businesses interested in competing for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The SBIR and STTR programs have funded the development of new sources of renewable energy and low-cost technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and help give the aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses from the Marianas access to the full range of federal resources needed to help our economy recover from disaster and make their dreams of small business ownership a reality. ____________________