By Congressman Michael Turner
Every year since 1963, our nation has recognized the accomplishments and contributions of America’s small businesses during National Small Business Week. This year, the President named the week of April 20th as National Small Business Week. Small businesses are the cornerstones of our communities and their importance to our way of life and our national economy cannot be overstated. Indeed, central to the American success story is the ability of the average person to start their own business and find success for themselves.
During Small Business Week, I was pleased to join with nearly 90 percent of my colleagues to support the Small Business Technological Innovation Bill (H.R. 5819). This legislation would modernize and extend the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs through fiscal year 2010. Through this program, small businesses are able to compete for competitive grants to stimulate technological innovation. Among its provisions, the legislation will shorten the application period, expedite the award process, and provide greater flexibility to the government agencies administering these programs.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) traditionally defines small businesses as a privately owned company that employs fewer than 500 employees. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau study, approximately 5.9 million small businesses employ 58.6 million Americans, which is over half of the nation’s private sector employees. Another study commissioned by the SBA showed that approximately 50% of the nation’s GDP was produced by small businesses. Successful small businesses are clearly critical to our nation’s economic future.
Small businesses also play a key role in creating jobs. Current census figures have shown that job creation was higher among small business than among other larger employers. Recent statistics showed that small business added over two million jobs with many of them coming from companies that had less than five employees.
One characteristic of small businesses is that they are often leaders in the emerging high tech industry. According to the Census Bureau, approximately 40% of private sector workers in high technology occupations were employed by small businesses. This is particularly important in Southwest Ohio which is on the cutting edge of innovation and scientific progress. Many of the small businesses in our community continue this tradition of scientific leadership and discovery by working closely with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. It is estimated that 20,000 people are employed inside the gates of Wright-Patterson and another 20,000 are employed by private companies that do business with the base.
Nearly fifty percent of the Ohio workforce is employed by small business and many of these companies have received loans from the Small Business Administration. The SBA is a government resource that works to strengthen small business productivity and provide recovery assistance during times of national disaster. Over the SBA’s 54 year history, approximately 20 million small businesses have benefited from direct or indirect assistance from SBA programs. The billions of dollars in loans given out by the SBA make them the largest backer of small businesses in America. To learn more about the SBA and its loan program please visit their website at www.sba.gov/financing/index.html.
The work done by many of the small businesses in the Miami Valley is critical to our economic well being and the health of our community. I look forward to continuing to advocate in Washington on behalf of the small businesses within Southwest Ohio.
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