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Northern Mariana Islands Small Business Development Act

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 14, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SABLAN. Mr. Speaker, my legislation, H.R. 6021, ensures the 1,700 small businesses in my district can receive assistance through grants from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program and through FAST, the Federal and State Technology program.

The Northern Mariana Islands is the only place in the U.S. not included in these Small Business Administration (SBA) programs, which help small businesses access the knowledge and capital needed to grow and compete successfully for federal contracting opportunities.

H.R. 6021, the Northern Mariana Islands Small Business Development Act, would correct that by ensuring Marianas businesses access to these SBA programs on the same basis as their counterparts across the nation. The Small Business Committee unanimously reported the bill favorably in March.

Under my legislation, the Marianas can apply to establish a Lead SBDC, which would make available 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, business planning, operations, and other areas required for small business growth and success.

H.R. 6021 would also help our small businesses participate in federal research and development opportunities. The legislation does this by including the Marianas in the SSA's FAST program which funds outreach and assistance to small businesses interested in competing for the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

I want to also express my support for H.R. 6079, the Microloan Improvement Act, being considered by the House. The Act includes a provision from my bill, H.R. 2603, which provides Marianas small businesses owners access to the SBA's Microloan program. SBA microloans provide up to $50,000 typically not offered by banks for working capital or the acquisition of materials, supplies, or equipment. The program also provides marketing, management, and technical assistance to assist the women, low-income, veteran entrepreneurs in my district.

I ask my colleagues to support H.R. 6021 and H.R. 6079, so we can be sure that all small businesses in our country can fully benefit from the SBA's programs, regardless of where in our nation they happen to operate.