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Senators mark National Small Business Week

(Washington, D.C.) — As part of National Small Business Week, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today introduced The Small Business Export Growth Act, bipartisan legislation that would remove barriers for small businesses seeking to export their products and services.  The Senators, who serve on the Senate Small Business Committee, introduced the legislation in response to feedback they heard from New Hampshire businesses during a committee field hearing they held in Manchester last August. 

“We heard from many entrepreneurs that selling to foreign markets is both a tremendous opportunity and a daunting challenge for a small business,” Shaheen said. “The federal government has good resources available to help small businesses bridge barriers to exporting. But federal agencies need to do a better job of listening to feedback from small business owners and coordinating their efforts. This bill will make that happen.”

“New Hampshire small business owners have real world experience in navigating the complexities of exporting, and their input is valuable to our efforts to craft effective policies aimed at boosting export growth,” said Senator Ayotte.  “This legislation will help improve coordination among regulatory agencies and ease barriers faced by small businesses that are seeking to grow and export their products to foreign markets.”

The bill improves coordination between federal and state agencies and expands outreach efforts to better inform small businesses about federal export promotion opportunities and resources.

The bill’s provisions would:

  • Encourage greater coordination between state and federal resources by placing a representative of state trade agencies on the federal panel tasked with coordinating federal export promotion services;
  • Require the Small Business Administration to conduct greater outreach to small businesses, including export events in each state, about the opportunities in exporting and federal resources available for small businesses;
  • Require the Small Business Administration to survey businesses about ways to improve the website to ensure it serves as a comprehensive resource for small businesses;
  • Direct the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) to identify opportunities to consolidate unnecessary government offices;
  • Require the TPCC to incorporate recommendations from the Government Accountability Office – including those pertaining to eliminating duplication and overlap. 

"This bill demonstrates that Senators Shaheen and Ayotte have listened closely to the businesses and providers in the field,” said Dawn Wivell, CEO of Firebrand International and Former Director of New Hampshire International Trade Resource Center. Wivell testified at the August hearing. “They have understood what is required to maximize export opportunities and have drafted legislation that is practical, thoughtful and effective and will serve to fast track the expansion of small businesses into the world marketplace."

“I appreciate the attention Senators Shaheen and Ayotte have paid to the importance of exports for small businesses in New Hampshire,” said Grace Preston of Secure Care Products, a Concord company that also testified at the August field hearing and develops and manufactures infant and wandering resident security systems. “Federal and state export services are critical for small businesses with limited resources, and New Hampshire is a model in how well all these organizations have worked together. We need to keep the focus on exports and ensure that these resources help American companies fill growing international demand for products and services.”

Exports represent a promising opportunity for growth and job creation in the New Hampshire economy, especially for small businesses. While 95 percent of the world’s customers live overseas, only 1 percent of small businesses sell their products into foreign markets. By comparison, over 40 percent of large businesses sell their products overseas.

After record growth in 2010, exporting has become an increasingly important part of the state’s economy. In 2011, international sales generated over $4 billion in revenue for New Hampshire firms. In a difficult economic climate, these sales have provided a critical boost to many New Hampshire businesses.