The U.S. Small Business Administration is providing $30 million in grants to states, territories, and the District of Columbia, to help increase exporting by small businesses during the next 12 months. The grants were authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, under the State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP).
The STEP program, launched in March, aligns with President Obama’s National Export Initiative. The President’s initiative calls for doubling U.S. exports in five years – and in so doing, supporting two million jobs. The program provides federal government funding for 65 to75 percent of program costs, with states supplying the remainder.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today announced grant awardees in a pilot program designed to help small businesses work together to compete for federal contracts, grow, and create jobs.
The Small Business Teaming Pilot Program, made possible by the Small Business Jobs Act, awards grants to organizations for training, counseling, and mentoring to help small businesses enter into teaming relationships and compete for larger federal contracts. Teaming may take the form of joint venture and mentor-protégé relationships.
Eleven grantees were selected from hundreds of applications submitted. Grantees were awarded between $200,000 and $500,000 in funding, for a total of approximately $5 million in Fiscal Year 2011.
Spotlight on Commerce: Alejandra Castillo, Deputy Director of the Minority Business Development Agency
Since joining the Minority Business Development Agency in April 2010, I serve as the principal advisor to the MBDA National Director and manage the day-to-day activities of the Agency’s 5 Regional Offices and 48 Minority Business Centers. These Offices and Business Centers are vital centers of economic growth and job creation. Under the Obama Administration, MBDA has assisted minority-owned firms in obtaining nearly $7 billion in contracts and capital, creating nearly 11,000 during the last two years. As the National Deputy Director, I am also responsible for executing the Agency’s mission to help Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) grow and succeed through access to capital, access to contract and access to business opportunities both domestically and abroad.
Prior to MBDA, I served as Special Advisor to the Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) where I was responsible for business outreach and development of policy initiatives geared at trade promotion and enforcement of U.S. trade laws. Before coming to the Department of Commerce, I was a practicing attorney for several years, working in the private, government and non-profit sector. I also served as the Interim Executive Director of the Hispanic National Bar Association working with the White House and non-profit organization, such as the Latinos for a Fair Judiciary, in support of the nomination and confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.
Recently, President Obama presented an aggressive plan to help small businesses get Americans back to work. The American Jobs Act would provide payroll tax cuts for 98% of businesses, a $4,000 tax credit for hiring workers who have been unemployed for more than six months, and extend the 100% expensing tax credit for large and small businesses.
The plan also includes provisions to expand job opportunities for hundreds of thousands of low-income youth and adults through a new Pathways Back to Work Fund that supports summer and year round jobs for youth; innovative new job training programs to connect low-income workers to jobs quickly; and successful programs to encourage employers to bring on disadvantaged workers.
The President is also directing executive branch agencies to accelerate their payments to small business contractors so they can reinvest that money in the economy and drive job growth. Additionally, the President is tasking his CFO and CTO with creating a one-stop, online portal for small businesses to easily access government services.
On September 7, 2011, before a joint session of Congress, President Obama outlined the details of the American Jobs Act. This act is a package of proposals designed both to spur employment but also has a number of provisions specifically of interest to MBEs. These include:
Extending the payroll tax cut to firms by cutting in half their payroll tax on the first $5 million in payroll. Next year, instead of paying 6.2 percent on their payroll expenses, firms would pay only 3.1 percent.
Extending a provision signed by the President in 2010 which would allow for 100 percent expensing through 2012. This rewards firms for making investments by allowing them to deduct the full value of those investments from their tax obligations.