U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) wants more loans for veteran entrepreneurs.
Shaheen recently introduced the Veteran Entrepreneurship Act. The act aims to lower the cost of Small Business Administration loan programs for military veterans trying to start their own businesses. At the same time, Shaheen also introduced a Veterans Hiring Act, providing tax incentives for businesses hiring veterans.
The Veteran Entrepreneurship Act would waive fees for veterans seeking loans through the SBA Express program . An SBA Express Loan is capped at $350,000. The SBA guarantees 50 percent of these loans for lenders. The SBA promises a 36-hour turnaround time on loan decisions through the Express program. SBA makes final decisions on most of the loan applications through the Express program. Some lenders are authorized to make loan decisions on their own.
Veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from 9 percent unemployment. This is about 2 percent higher than the national unemployment average. By waiving the fees and giving more, and quicker access to loans, the SBA hopes its Express loans could help lower those unemployment numbers.
However, newly sworn Small Business Administration Chief Maria Contreras-Sweet may need to provide more oversight  for some of these programs. That’s due to criticism of the SBA’s handling of some loans in recent years.
In an official announcement backing both bills, Shaheen explained :
“One of the best things we can do to honor that service is make sure they have good-paying, quality jobs when they come home. The skills developed through military training and service are the same qualities that make great employees and entrepreneurs. We can do more to help during the transition process, and these two pieces of legislation will go a long way toward helping veterans, small businesses, and our economy.”
Shaheen also said the bill, if passed, would increase funding to SBA programs focused on pre-deployment financial counseling and emergency assistance for veterans.
The legislation also calls for a boost to the SBA’s Women Business Centers and Veteran Business Outreach Centers. Those resources can be used by female veterans to begin thinking about starting their own businesses. Shaheen added:
“We also need to make it easier to access the programs we already have. Despite making up fourteen percent of our military and owning thirty percent of our small businesses, only four percent of veteran-owned small business are run by women. We need to do better. This bill will make important progress in filling in some of the gaps in our current programs.”