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(Washington, D.C.) – At a Senate Small Business Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) outlined legislative priorities to grow small businesses and questioned experts on the programs that will stimulate job creation. Shaheen spoke specifically about the importance of reauthorizing the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) real estate refinancing program, which helps extend credit to small businesses at no cost to taxpayers.

The hearing, titled “Creating Jobs and Growing the Economy: Legislative Proposals to Strengthen the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem,”  featured a panel of small business experts, including Scott Gardiner, Executive Vice President of New Hampshire’s Granite State Economic Development Corporation.

Shaheen highlighted that lack of credit continues to be a concern for small businesses. One concrete, no-cost step she offered to help solve this problem would be the reauthorization of SBA’s 504 refinancing program, which helped over 2,700 businesses nationwide access more than $2.5 billion in credit before it expired this September. Earlier this year, Shaheen introduced legislation to extend the program.

“As we all know, small businesses are a critical engine for our economy,” Shaheen said. “Small businesses create two out of every three new jobs in the United States, which is why it is so important that we ensure they have the tools needed to succeed. Small businesses in New Hampshire need access to capital and this program can achieve that at no cost to taxpayers.”

Granite State Economic Development Corporation’s Scott Gardiner testified in support of reauthorizing the program, citing the “ongoing challenges in the commercial real estate market” and his first-hand experience working with small businesses in New Hampshire. Gardiner noted that there were nearly 400 applications representing over $424 million in small business loans that the SBA could not process due to the expiration of the program.

Also in attendance for the hearing was William Donegan, a small business owner based in Merrimack, NH.  The SBA 504 refinance program allowed his company, Merrimack Building Supply Company, to pay off a credit line and extend its loan payments, resulting in significantly improved cash flow.

In addition, Shaheen asked questions provided by members of her Small Business Advisory Council regarding the Small Business Administration’s efforts on contracting reforms that could help small businesses and ways to streamline small business support programs.

As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Shaheen has consistently worked to aid small companies in growing their businesses. She held a joint, bipartisan field hearing in New Hampshire with Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) to hear from businesses about the challenges they face in exporting. Based on what the senators heard from small business owners, they introduced a bipartisan bill, the Small Business Export Growth Act, that will streamline exports and make them easier to access. Shaheen has also introduced legislation with Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), the Go Global Act of 2012, that requires the SBA to provide resources, information, education and technical assistance to small businesses to enhance exporting strategies.