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(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) made the following remarks on the floor of the Senate to discuss her bipartisan legislation to boost small business exports, The Small Business Export Growth Act, which she introduced today with Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

Shaheen’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Today, I’d like to talk about the importance of small businesses to our economy as we celebrate National Small Business Week. 

I’d also like to talk about bipartisan legislation that I introduced today with my colleague from New Hampshire, Senator Ayotte, to boost small business exports.

Small businesses are the backbone of New Hampshire’s economy, so it should come as no surprise to those familiar with our state that Senator Ayotte and I both serve on the Small Business Committee.  We both recognize how critical it is for our delegation to work across the aisle, and across chambers when possible, to help these companies provide good jobs for our residents.

That’s why I’m glad to join with Senator Ayotte to announce the introduction of our bipartisan legislation to remove barriers to exporting for small businesses in New Hampshire and across the United States.

The bill we are introducing today, the Small Business Export Growth Act, is the result of a Small Business Committee field hearing we hosted together in Manchester, New Hampshire last August. 

We held that hearing in recognition that exports are a tremendous opportunity for small businesses.  Unfortunately, foreign markets remain an untapped resource for the vast majority of small businesses.  Over 95 percent of the world’s customers live overseas, but only one percent of small businesses export.  That’s a shocking number when you consider that by comparison, over 40 percent of large businesses sell their products overseas.

At the field hearing, we heard about some of the barriers that businesses face when looking to “go global.”  Our legislation is an attempt to remove some of those barriers so that small businesses can access new sources of revenue and create jobs.

One of the problems we learned about is that navigating the federal bureaucracy can be a special challenge for small businesses that wish to export.  Senator Ayotte and I heard from two such New Hampshire companies that relied on state and federal offices to help them export.

I’d like to talk about one of those companies, called Secure Care.  Secure Care has developed a technology that protects Alzheimer’s patients who may wander or newborns who are still in maternity wards.  Grace Preston, the international sales manager for Secure Care, told us that the company has significantly expanded its growth by selling overseas.  Grace also told us that Secure Care couldn’t have done that without federal and state export programs working together.  In New Hampshire, our state and federal export services work seamlessly, which has helped exports grow our economy.

But we also heard that state and federal agencies do not always have the same collaborative relationship in other places.  According to our former New Hampshire trade director, Dawn Wivell, these services can overlap or, even worse, they refuse to work together.  Our bill requires better coordination to make more successes like Secure Care a reality across the country.

Our bill also encourages the federal government to do more to promote the opportunity of exporting and get the word out about federal export programs. 

Mr. President, foreign markets can be daunting for small businesses, but that shouldn’t stop our innovators from trying to compete.  Our small businesses must be assured that the federal government will help them when considering exporting.

I would like to thank Senator Ayotte for working with me on this issue, and I look forward to advancing this legislation in the Senate.