Fighting for Small Businesses in Washington

Thank you to the Queens Chamber of Commerce for the opportunity to address local small business owners.

As the daughter of Queens small business owners, I know first-hand the critical role that small businesses play here in our borough.

Small businesses bring investment and innovation to communities. They create jobs, provide important services and contribute to the local tax base.

After I was first sworn-in to Congress, I fought for and won a seat on the House Small Business Committee, and I used the position to make national small business policies relevant to Queens so that I could help make owning and operating a small business easier for entrepreneurs.

It’s imperative that federal officials in Washington listen to and understand the needs of small business owners, which is why one of my first major initiatives while serving on the Committee was to help spearhead a rare small business subcommittee field hearing at Queens College. The hearing examined why many small businesses owners struggle to make use of federal programs. After hearing testimony from local entrepreneurs about the need for more creative credit solutions, the Small Business Administration (SBA) implemented changes to expand small-business owners’ access to SBA loans. These improvements included making it easier for small businesses to apply and be approved for SBA-backed loans, allowing entrepreneurs to combine personal and business credit scores for SBA loans, and announcing a new electronic lending platform to make loan processing simpler. I was glad to see the SBA tackle these problems head-on.

Many entrepreneurs in Queens have also highlighted the need for a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in the Northeast section of the borough, and I have been working to secure such a facility for the area. In the meantime however, I, in conjunction with LaGuardia Community College, have arranged for SBDC services to be available at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library. Each week, an advisor is on-hand to assist small businesses with everything from training and access to capital to help with marketing, advertising, business plan development and a host of other services. Appointments are required and can be made by calling 718-482-5303.

I am also constantly searching for ways to improve the playing field for small businesses. Late last year, I was pleased to pass a measure into law that requires the SBA to provide annual updates on regulatory changes affecting small business contracting, a move that will make it easier for small businesses to apply for and receive government contracts.

I have been proud to advocate and vote for legislation that made permanent several tax breaks which Congress has traditionally only renewed on a temporary basis. These include:

Research and Development (R and D) Credit: Tax credit for research and development costs for start-ups and established businesses that are designed to spur innovation and research.

Small Business Expensing: Increases expensing limits for small businesses under section 179 of the tax code by allowing entrepreneurs to expense up to $500,000, up from $25,000, for equipment costs.

Landlord, Restaurant, Retailer Tax Break: Allows landlords, restaurants and retailers to recover the costs of renovations to commercial buildings over 15 years, a much quicker period of time than the law previously allowed.

In addition, I’ve worked with the Queens Chamber, federal and city agencies, local development corporations and business improvement districts to sponsor several workshops and forums – from Ridgewood to Flushing – to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses, start a new one and better navigate resources available to them. The most recent numbers of a two-year snapshot showed that over 300 small businesses in my district received $101.6 million in SBA backed (7a and 504) loans, directly contributing to the expansion of small businesses in our local economy.

I have also been privileged to meet with and visit so many exceptional small businesses in Queens. I am proud to “shop small” and support Small Business Week and Small Business Saturday. Previously, I brought then-SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet to Queens where we toured local small businesses. Her trip here allowed her to meet and speak with local business owners, hear their concerns and experience the vibrancy and success of our borough’s entrepreneurs.

Earlier this year, I became a member of the House Appropriations Committee, the panel responsible for funding federal agencies, programs, and projects within the United States government. This new committee assignment puts me in an even stronger position to assist small businesses, and I will work to ensure that agencies and programs designed to assist small businesses are adequately funded.

In closing, I want to thank the Queens Chamber of Commerce for its partnership in connecting local entrepreneurs with the resources they need, and I applaud the outstanding work and advocacy that the Chamber provides on behalf of Queens small businesses.

Small businesses are the economic engine of our economy here in Queens and across the nation, and America’s prosperity is dependent on their success. It is vital that government be a strong partner in helping small businesses grow and thrive, and I look forward to championing even more initiatives to help entrepreneurs succeed.

Congresswoman Grace Meng represents the 6th Congressional District. Her Northeast Queens District office is at 40-13 159th Street, Suite A, in Flushing. Reach the office at (718) 358-MENG (6364).

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