Accessing capital

Feds can help lower road blocks to small business growth

Congressman Brian Baird (D-Vancouver)
spoke at the Vancouver Business Journal Business Growth Awards on March 23.

Small businesses created the most net new jobs in the U.S. economy during the last decade, yet too many have been forced to close because of rising costs, increased regulations and a tax system that penalizes expanding enterprises. I have heard these concerns directly from business owners throughout Southwest Washington, which is why I have devoted so much time and energy to breaking down the bureaucratic barriers that hinder the success of local small businesses.

This year I will reintroduce the Business Retained Income During Growth and Expansion Act, or BRIDGE Act, which allows fast-growing small businesses to defer a portion of their federal income tax liability for two years in order to reinvest that money in their businesses.

I have also been working to increase access to the federal government’s Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR), which helps small businesses access the capital they need to grow. The Save America’s Biotechnology Innovation Research Act (SABIR), a bill I cosponsored with my colleague Sam Graves (R-MO), would allow small, venture capital-backed companies to be eligible for the SBIR program, the single largest technology development program supported by the federal government.

Local small business owners tell me that health insurance costs are their single greatest financial burden. To help curb these rising insurance costs, I supported the Small Business Health Fairness Act, which would allow small employers to band together, through their membership in an association or other industry group, to purchase affordable health insurance for their employees. By joining together, small businesses will enjoy greater bargaining power and administrative efficiency, much like unions and large corporations do.

One of the most common complaints I hear from local business owners is how much government red tape hinders their success. The regulatory process has become far too costly and time consuming. Businesses succeed when owners can spend more time running their businesses and less time trying to decipher arcane bureaucratic rules.

Just last month I worked to pass an important permitting extension that will help local small businesses. The Section 214 extension of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) will allow public entities to fund additional Army Corps of Engineers staff to process their permits. Without this extension, many Port of Vancouver projects that bring millions of dollars to our local economy would have been significantly delayed.

In recent years, I have also organized meetings throughout Southwest Washington to bring local business leaders together with federal, state and local officials to determine which parts of the permitting process are functioning efficiently, and which can be improved. As a direct result, several federal and state agencies have made significant progress to streamline permits, reducing application backlogs and improving coordination to expedite the process in general.

I am currently organizing another set of these meetings throughout the third district. Please check my Web site,, in the coming months for information on these meetings and consider joining me to discuss this important issue.

Much of the small business work I do in Congress has originated from conversations with local business owners right here in Southwest Washington. For example, I became involved in SBIR reform after talking with nLight, a local venture capital-backed small business innovator that became encumbered by federal regulatory changes. If there is something you think the federal government could be doing to help your local business, I want to know about it. As your elected representative, I want to do everything I can to help your small business succeed.

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