Peters Cosponsors Bill Supporting Veteran Entrepreneurs, Observes National Small Business Week

Bill Would Make Permanent Fee Waiver to Small Business Administration Express Loan Program


WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, today announced that he is cosponsoring the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act, legislation that would make it easier for veteran-owned businesses to get access to credit. The legislation would make permanent a temporary fee waiver for the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Express loans for veterans and would require the SBA to review existing programs that support veterans before and after deployment, women veterans, reservists, and National Guard members. This week is National Small Business Week, which recognizes the contributions small businesses give to our communities across the country.

“National Small Business Week is an important reminder of the importance of small businesses as the engines of economic growth in Michigan and across the country,” said Senator Peters. “As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I am committed to ensuring that entrepreneurs have access to the capital and resources they need to start and grow their businesses, and I’m proud to introduce legislation that supports veteran entrepreneurs and innovators.”

The Veterans Entrepreneurship Act makes permanent a currently temporary fee waiver for SBA Express loans for veterans. The SBA Express loan program provides streamlined loan approvals for both banks and small businesses. The SBA is currently waiving fees for veteran-owned small businesses on Express loans between $150,000 and $350,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2015, which is typically 3 percent of the loan. The Veterans Express Loan fee waiver builds on the SBA’s waiver of both borrower and lender fees on non-Express loans of $150,000 and less. In FY14, veterans received more than 2,000 7(a) loans totaling $598 million. Michigan is home to over 658,469 veterans and over 66,740 veteran-owned small businesses.

“The men and women who have served our nation in uniform are community leaders and small business owners who have always stood ready to protect our freedom,” added Senator Peters. “Ensuring that existing programs work for our veterans as they begin a new chapter following their military service is common sense, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to better streamline services for veteran entrepreneurs.”

The Veterans Entrepreneurship Act would additionally require the SBA to review existing veterans support programs to enhance their reach to veteran-owned small businesses:

  • Pre-Deployment Financial Counseling for National Guard/Reserve. The legislation requires the SBA to study the feasibility of offering National Guard and Reservist small business owners financial planning and counseling prior to deployment. Most of SBA’s current programs offer loan guaranties or emergency funding for veterans once they return.  Pre-deployment training could potentially address many problems before they arise, which would save money for both the veteran and the tax payer.
  • Outreach to Women Veterans Entrepreneurs. Women currently make up more than fourteen percent of U.S. military personnel. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, women operate only four percent of veteran-owned small businesses as compared to 30 percent of non-veteran owned small businesses. This provision requires the Small Business Administration to conduct a comprehensive review and make recommendation to improve its outreach and services for female veterans, particularly by its Women Business Centers and Veteran Business Outreach Centers.
  • Military Reservists Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL). SBA's MREIDL Program provides disaster assistance in the form of direct loans of up to $2 million to help small business owners who are not able to obtain credit elsewhere because an essential employee has been called-up to active duty in their role as a military reservist or member of the National Guard due to a period of military conflict. The program was authorized in 2001, but to date has been underutilized. The Veterans Entrepreneurship Act requires the SBA to report to Congress on how this program is administered and ways to address program outreach, utilization, and effectiveness.

Peters previously introduced a similar version of this bill as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. A former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Peters has been a strong voice in Congress for service members. Earlier this year, Peters introduced bipartisan legislation with Republican Senator Joni Ernst (IA), a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, to extend for five years a tax credit for small businesses that provide differential pay to military reservists and National Guard members called to serve on active duty.

Peters has long been a champion of Michigan’s small businesses and start-ups and authored the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which started in 2010. Many small businesses were struggling to find the resources needed to stay afloat after the recession, and the program leverages significant private capital with targeted federal investments. SSBCI has been a huge success, supporting nearly 100,000 jobs, including 4,000 jobs in Michigan. Over 500 loans have been made here in Michigan and have leveraged more than $430 million in private capital. Most recently, he introduced a bipartisan bill to strengthen the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s main lending program, the 7(a) loan program, which has since passed the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and awaits a vote in the full Senate.