Federal Small Business Partner Increase Sought in Biden Proposal

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Small businesses developing critical technologies would gain wider access to capital under President Joe Biden’s fiscal 2024 budget request released Thursday.

Part of an overall $58 billion boost in governmentwide lending authority would go to the Small Business Investment Company program managed by the Small Business Administration. The Defense Department also has a new Office of Strategic Capital to improve firms’ access to private venture funding.

Earlier: Private Capital Is DOD’s ‘Competitive Advantage’ in Tech Race

The first collaboration between SBA and the Pentagon’s OSC was announced Tuesday and is focused on early-stage investment in critical technologies that “require longer-duration, lower return ‘patient capital’ to develop,” like semiconductors, advanced materials, and biotechnology.

“Increasing the authorized lending level for the SBIC program by 20 percent to $6 billion would significantly expand the availability of venture capital funding for small businesses,” according to the administration’s budget request.

The request touted its support of small businesses, with record numbers of firms established in 2021 and 2022 as well as a historic number of federal contracts awarded toward its goal of reaching 15% of total contract spending by 2025.

With the administration’s emphasis on increasing domestic manufacturing, the request also targets small businesses with a proposed $277 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a public-private partnership with centers in every state offering advisory services to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Small Business Administration would also receive $987 million, which would include:

  • $30 million for the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, Regional Innovation Clusters, and the Federal and State Technology Partnership Program
  • $20.5 million for the Veteran Small Business Certification Program to increase access to federal contracting markets

The request also allocates $30 million to grants and $1 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements for farmers and rural small businesses.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patty Nieberg in Washington at pnieberg@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Amanda H. Allen at aallen@bloombergindustry.com; Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloombergindustry.com

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