- The Washington Times - Friday, October 4, 2002

A new government report on the effect of public policy on small businesses during the past 40 years has some lawmakers pushing for increased programs and funding for entrepreneurs.

The report, released yesterday by the National Commission on Entrepreneurship (NCOE) cited deregulation, financial institutes like Nasdaq, funding for scientific research and education, copyright laws and tax-break incentives as effective policies that have increased business growth from 1958 to 1998.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Small Business Committee, said the report would serve as a guide for future business legislation, including a possible Homeland Growth office that would centralize more than 10 agencies that process business laws.

"The report will hopefully be a start in breaking down conventional thinking that Republicans are for small business and the Democrats aren't, so we can all move forward and provide a better relationship between government and the private sector," Mr. Kerry said.

Sen. Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican and ranking member of the committee, said he also plans to use the report to push for further tax breaks for starting business owners and investors. He said he also would support a technology transfer program, which would provide government funds through public universities and laboratories to companies developing new technologies.

"We want to get more programs out to the public that encourage investors to take the risk in the marketplace, especially when it comes to the prefinancing stage, the hardest for small-business owners," Mr. Bond said.

The report said more than 90,000 small businesses have received $27 billion from government programs like Small Business Investment Companies, with $5.5 billion invested in 3,060 small businesses in 1998 alone.

About 22.4 million small businesses, having 500 employees or less, produced two-thirds of the 429,000 new jobs this year, employing more than half of the private-sector work force, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

"The small-business owner plays a vital role in today's lagging economy, and we have to have a more solid game plan when we propose legislation that will affect our free-market system," Mr. Bond said.

Patrick Von Bargen, executive director of NCOE, said the nonprofit organization would work with the committee to expand capital-gains programs such as Small Business Investment Companies, which help business owners get funding in the initial stages of a business venture.

"The creation of these programs has allowed companies like Apple Computers and Intel to exist when 10 years ago no one would take a chance on them," he said.

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