March 2022 Advocacy Update
WBCS IN WASHINGTON Kicking off Women’s History Month, the women of the Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) headed to town to discuss the need to uplift women-owned small businesses. The Association Board and Advocacy Committee Members, made up of Executive Directors from around the nation, met with legislators from their hometowns, and leadership in the Small Business Administration including Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman and Natalie Madeira Cofield, head of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, to discuss the reauthorization of the bill: The Women’s Business Center Improvement Act of 2022. Participants in the fly-in plan reinforced the vital role that women entrepreneurs play in the US economy and discussed ways in which WBCs can continue their support of the American small business community, which begins with reauthorization of the WBC Program.
AWBC SECURES MORE FUNDING FOR WBCS Earlier today the House of Representatives released a compromise omnibus funding bill, which allocated $24.4 million for the WBC program at SBA. This marks yet another year where AWBC’s advocacy efforts have yielded increased funding for the program. The legislation is expected to pass before funding expires at the end of the week. More on the FY22 appropriations will be coming from our team in Washington as they review the 2,300+ page legislation. Thank you to WBCs around the country who advocated for this additional funding. We are turning our attention to ensuring the program receives its needed modernization and the swift passage of HR 6441.
We expect that the House of Representatives will vote on the package and pass it out of the chamber. The package was written as an amendment to a Senate vehicle, making it easier for the Senate to pass it – if – there is enough votes. Note, the House is also planning on passing another short-term CR (through March 15) to give Congress more time if the vote later this week fails.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR WBCs With record thin margins and an immense amount of compromise and bi-partisan negotiations behind the final product, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 attempts to find balance. Notably, the WBC Program is authorized for $24.4 million dollars, a record high for the program! Among other important provisions for the small business community, the legislation also expands child care and early learning programs, invests in high-poverty schools and students with disabilities, expands access to homeownership, and brings rural broadband to more communities.
After negotiations, below is a very high-level breakdown of what is currently in the bill:
1. The bill increases domestic spending by 7% the largest increase in some time according to Senate Appropriations Chairman Leahy (D-VT), including roughly $16B in pandemic funding
2. Defense spending increased by 6%, including $14B in humanitarian assistance for Ukraine
3. Earmarks are back in the game, referred to as “member directed spending”
4. For small business and entrepreneurship, the package includes $1B for SBA programs, representing an increase of $109M from FY21 enacted levels, $290M of which, is for entrepreneurial development programs
5. For workforce, the bill includes $2.9M for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act state grants (representing a $34M increase from last year)
6. The package includes increased funding for innovation efforts across various industries including workforce, science and technology, rural, small businesses, and more
Explanatory statements are available here. A full summary of the 12 regular appropriations bills is here. A summary of the Ukraine supplemental is here and a one-page fact sheet is here. A summary of the coronavirus supplemental is here and a one-page fact sheet is here. The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) subcommittee summary and one pager (where the WBC program is housed) can be found here.
SMALL BUSINESS TECH HEARING… March 8, 2022, at 10:00 AM ET, the Committee on Small Business held a hybrid hearing titled: “Overview of the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs.” To view the hearing, click here.
SMALL BUSINESS WORKFORCE INNOVATION HEARING… on March 9, 2022, at 10:00 AM ET, the Committee on Small Business will held a hybrid hearing titled: “Skill, Upskill, and Reskill: Analyzing New Investments in Workforce Development.” The hearing will focus on examining the factors contributing to the workforce shortage and will discuss solutions, including changes to the workforce development system, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and more. To view a livestream of the hearing, click here.
By Ashlyn Roberts