Peters Small Business Provisions Advance in Senate

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship today approved three provisions introduced by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) to strengthen small businesses. Peters’ provisions improve Small Business Administration (SBA) outreach to women and minority-owned small businesses, strengthen the ability for small businesses to protect intellectual property, and support small businesses that are assisted by the SBA’s Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program.

“Connecting small businesses to more federal award and contract opportunities and providing resources to protect their intellectual property will ensure Michigan businesses can continue to be engines of economic growth in their communities,” said Senator Peters, a member if the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. “I am pleased that these provisions passed the Senate Small Business Committee with bipartisan support, and I will continue working to advance these provisions that will diversify our workforce, boost innovation, and bolster job creation.”

Increasing Outreach to Women-Owned and Minority-Owned Businesses

The first provision increases outreach to women-owned and minority-owned small businesses by giving them more access to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards pipeline. The SBIR and STTR programs direct federal research and development funding to small, innovative businesses to assist in federal research initiatives, often with marketable products or services resulting from this partnership. The STTR program utilizes public/private partnerships for joint ventures between small businesses and nonprofit research institutions.

Peters’ provision would:

  • Explicitly clarify that the SBA, in coordination with federal agencies, must conduct and improve outreach to women and minority-owned businesses for SBIR/STTR.
  • Require that women and minority stakeholders be invited to SBIR/STTR interagency policy meetings to review and comment on outreach efforts, and
  • Authorize a Diversity and STEM Workforce Development Pilot Program to provide SBIR and STTR awardee businesses with up to $15,000 to bring on women or minority STEM students as interns.

“This bill would help improve outreach to minority and women owned firms, ensuring that these firms are able to better compete for SBIR/STTR opportunities in partnership with the government,” said Dr. Ken L. Harris, PhD, President and CEO of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

“The Small Business Association of Michigan is a long-time champion of the SBIR/STTR program and the opportunities it provides for small business expansion and job creation. We applaud Sen. Peters and his legislative effort to improve access for minority and women-owned firms to tap into this important federal government partnership with the private sector,” said Rob Fowler, President and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

“Sen. Peters’ provision would take important steps forward in ensuring that minority- and women-owned firms are aware of and have access to the critical SBIR/STTR programs and the myriad resources they can provide America’s small-business innovators. It’s a win-win for the public and private sectors,” said Todd McCracken, National Small Business Association President and CEO.

“WIPP strives to educate women business owners on all sources of capital. The SBIR program will benefit from Senator Peters’ legislation to increase outreach to women-and minority-owned businesses who are developing innovative products and services. These public private partnerships benefit both the government and the private sector. We applaud the Senator for his leadership in this field,” said Kristie Arslan, Executive Director of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP).

The Small Business Innovation Protection Act

The Committee also approved the Small Business Innovation Protection Act, bipartisan legislation Senator Peters introduced with Republican Senators David Vitter (LA) and James Risch (ID). The bill requires the SBA and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to work together to leverage existing outreach programs in order to better educate more small businesses on domestic and international patents. You can read more about Senator Peters’ legislation by clicking here.

Supporting the SBA’s HUBZone Program

The third provision supports the SBA’s HUBZone program by extending from three years to seven years the period in which HUBZones retain their status after losing eligibility and establishing a mechanism whereby states can apply to the SBA for certain areas to become HUBZones.

The HUBZone program increases capital investment in distressed areas by providing small businesses located in certain areas with contracting opportunities. Many communities in Michigan, particularly across Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, are designated as HUBZone regions by the SBA.