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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Small Business: Access to Capital and Job Creation

Robert Jay Dilger
Senior Specialist in American National Government

The SBA administers several programs to support small businesses, including loan guaranty and venture capital programs to enhance small business access to capital; contracting programs to increase small business opportunities in federal contracting; direct loan programs for businesses, homeowners, and renters to assist their recovery from natural disasters; and small business management and technical assistance training programs to assist business formation and expansion. Congressional interest in these programs has increased in recent years, primarily because assisting small business is viewed as a means to enhance economic growth.

Some, including President Obama, have argued that the SBA should be provided additional resources to assist small businesses in acquiring capital necessary to start, continue, or expand operations and create jobs. Others worry about the long-term adverse economic effects of spending programs that increase the federal deficit. They advocate business tax reduction, reform of financial credit market regulation, and federal fiscal restraint as the best means to assist small business economic growth and job creation.

During the 111
th Congress, several laws were enacted to enhance small business access to capital. For example, P.L. 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), provided the SBA an additional $730 million, including $375 million to temporarily subsidize SBA fees and increase the 7(a) loan guaranty program’s maximum loan guaranty percentage to 90%. P.L. 111-240, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, authorized a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund to encourage community banks to provide small business loans ($4 billion was issued), a $1.5 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative to provide funding to participating states with small business capital access programs, numerous changes to the SBA’s loan guaranty and contracting programs, $510 million to continue the SBA’s fee subsidies and 90% maximum loan guaranty percentage through December 31, 2010, and about $12 billion in tax relief for small businesses. The SBA subsequently was provided authority to continue the fee subsidies and the 90% maximum loan guaranty percentage through March 4, 2011, or until available funding was exhausted, which occurred on January 3, 2011.

During the 112
th Congress, several bills were introduced to enhance small business access to capital, including bills to extend the SBA’s temporary fee subsidies and the 90% maximum loan guaranty percentage. Congress did not adopt these legislative efforts. Instead, Congress passed legislation to enhance small business contracting opportunities, expand access to the SBA’s surety bond guarantee program, amend the SBA’s size standard practices, require a review and reassessment of the federal procurement small business goaling program, and expand small business mentor-protégé programs.

This report addresses a core issue facing the 113
th Congress: What, if any, additional action should the federal government take to enhance small business access to capital? After discussing the role of small business in job creation and retention, this report provides an assessment of the supply and demand for small business loans, including the number and amount of small business loans guaranteed by the SBA. It also discusses selected laws enacted during the previous three Congresses that were designed to enhance small business access to capital by increasing the supply of small business loans or the demand for small business loans, or both. It also examines recent actions concerning the SBA’s budget and concludes with a brief overview of three legislative options available to address small business access to capital issues during the 113th Congress: wait-and-see, enact additional programs, or reduce and consolidate existing programs.

Date of Report: April 18, 2013
Number of Pages: 27
Order Number: R40985
Price: $29.95

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