WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wednesday morning, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) convened a Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee field hearing titled “Examining Access to Capital and Other Headwinds to Entrepreneurship” in Lincoln, Nebraska. In this morning’s hearing, Senator Fischer heard testimony from individuals representing various parts of Nebraska’s entrepreneurial community about the roadblocks to innovation and ways to increase access to capital for small businesses. Senator Fischer released the following statement after concluding today’s hearing:
“At today’s Small Business Committee field hearing in Lincoln, we heard valuable feedback from Nebraska entrepreneurs on the regulatory roadblocks that make it harder to start and grow businesses in our state. This was my fourth Senate field hearing in Nebraska, and it further demonstrated that the best ideas come from outside of Washington. I’m eager to take this input to the Senate in order to create effective policy and work with these innovators so that we can continue to sow the seeds of our Silicon Prairie and allow Nebraska’s small business economy to thrive.”
Today’s hearing took place at Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC). Witnesses included Eric Dinger, co-founder and CEO of Powderhook; Dan Hoffman, CEO of Invest Nebraska Corporation; Julia Parker, Executive Director of Omaha Small Business Network; T.J. Casady, Vice President of Commercial Loans at Union Bank and Trust; and Jon Anderson, Manager of Advanced R&D at LI-COR.
During her opening remarks, Senator Fischer highlighted legislation she has introduced known as the Microloan Program Modernization Act. This legislation aims to help those entrepreneurs with limited resources by increasing flexibility and creating more opportunities for them to start their own businesses. The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) microloan program was introduced in 1992 as a pilot program and has loaned more than $55 million to nearly 4,000 small businesses across the country. Many of the original provisions of the pilot program remain in effect today, even though the program has grown in size, scope, and success. Currently, these intermediaries face unnecessary restraints on how and when they can provide technical assistance to applicants. Fischer’s bill would eliminate these restraints and give these intermediaries the flexibility they need to provide better assistance to the entrepreneur, increase odds of long-term business success, and keep default rates low.
This was the fourth U.S. Senate field hearing hosted by Senator Fischer in Nebraska. In March 2015, she hosted a hearing in Lincoln where Nebraskans testified about the impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Waters of the United States” rule. In September 2015, another field hearing in Columbus heard testimony on the EPA’s proposed rule to lower the ground level ozone standard. Most recently, Senator Fischer chaired a Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee hearing in Scottsbluff that focused on the implementation of the long-term highway bill, which was signed into law last December.