Recess Packet - April 2017

Dear AEO Members,

On Friday, April 7, Congress adjourns for a two-week spring recess. When Congress returns, Members will have just five days to act before the federal government runs out of funding for FY17 on April 28. Once they come to an agreement on funding for the rest of FY2017, Congress will immediately begin the FY2018 budget process. While Congress is in their districts/States, your Member of Congress needs to hear from you about the support you provide to entrepreneurs in your community.

During the first three months of the 115th Congress, AEO has been educating Members of Congress and advocating for microbusinesses in both the House and Senate.  However, our work doesn’t end when Congress leaves Washington, DC, and this is where you come in. Spring recess is a great opportunity to continue AEO’s advocacy with Members of Congress.

In particular, there are two areas where your support is crucial:

  1. Urging your Senator to Co-Sponsor S. 526, the “Microloan Modernization Act” Introduced by Senator Deb Fischer (Nebraska)
  2. Urging Members of Congress to Save Critical Funding for Entrepreneurial Support Programs

To assist with your advocacy work, AEO has prepared a tool kit (below) for you to be a successful advocate. It includes:

  • Policy Ideas to engage your Congressional delegation
  • Strategies to reach your Members of Congress
  • Insider tips for maximizing the impact of your engagement
  • Supporting letters

We are looking forward to working with you to advocate on behalf of our nation’s entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Sincerely,

 

Connie Evans

President & CEO

 


AEO Recess Packet 2017

About AEO’s Efforts

AEO advocates for the microbusiness community every day. On Capitol Hill and in the Administration, AEO is active in promoting an agenda that benefits America’s smallest businesses, as well as the lenders and counselors on whom they rely.  A key component of advocacy includes lawmakers hearing from their constituents on issues that are important to them. That is where your organization, a leader for microbusinesses in your area and a member of AEO, comes in. 

The goal of this work is to affect the government’s decision-making process in a way that provides beneficial outcomes to microbusiness owners and the organizations that assist them.  As a reminder, 501(c) 3 organizations are allowed to engage Congress with advocacy on issues affecting them – including making specific recommendations. Most of this work is education – and not lobbying; however, the guidelines from the IRS on nonprofit lobbying are available here

Critical to our efforts is on-the-ground engagement of the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Small Business Committees and the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Subcommittees. These Members are:

House Small Business Committee

  • Chair Steve Chabot, OH
  • Ranking Member Nydia Velazquez, NY

Senate Small Business Committee

  • Chair Jim Risch, ID
  • Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen, NH

House FSGG Appropriations Subcommittee

  • Chairman Tom Graves, GA
  • Ranking Member Mike Quigley IL

Senate FSGG Appropriations Subcommittee

  • Chair Shelley Moore-Capito, WV
  • Ranking Member Chris Coons, DE

How to Reach Your Member of Congress

The two-week spring recess means that your Member of Congress will be in their home district offices and hosting town hall meetings.  This is the perfect opportunity to encourage your lawmakers to support policies that benefit micro businesses. These policies include robust funding for entrepreneurial development programs and modernizing the Microloan program at the SBA.

Click here to find your Representative and click here to find your Senators. On these sites, there is a tool that allows you to enter your zip code to determine your Representative. Each Member will have a website with the locations of their District and State offices.

Making the Meeting Valuable

The goal of Congressional outreach during recess is to amplify the message AEO builds in Washington. Remind Members that you are a member of AEO. In addition to discussing AEO’s 2017 policy platform, you can add information about your organization and how it would benefit from these changes. Here are four tips to make the most of your meeting:

  1. Keep It Simple: Members will likely not know the ins and outs of our policy requests. Likewise, you are not expected to be a policy expert. The policy descriptions below cover the key points of our issues. 
  2. Keep It Concise: These meetings tend to be short. Know what you want to say and focus on the “ask” included with each policy priority. 
  3. Bring Your Handout: Leave behind AEO’s FY2018 funding letter FY2018 funding letter with the office. This letter explains AEO’s funding requests and justification that Members of Congress will find helpful.  
  4. Follow Up: Follow up matters.  After the meeting, be sure to send the appropriate thank you email to the legislator and any staff members that attended.  If you discussed any items that need to be passed along, please do so. If the legislator asked you any questions and you need AEO’s assistance for follow-up information, please feel free to send your requests to Vice President of Operations, Nou Vang, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

What to Talk About

Microbusinesses power the nation's economy by supporting jobs for more than 41 million Americans. These main street businesses have always struggled to access the financing they need to start and grow. In fact, America’s small businesses are facing a $52 billion capital gap. Through extensive research, innovative thinking, and stakeholder engagement, AEO has developed a comprehensive series of recommendations to solve this crisis of capital. These bold proposals pick up where markets have failed. The two main points to focus on in your meeting are:

1) Urge your Senator to Co-Sponsor S. 526, the “Microloan Modernization Act” Introduced by Senator Deb Fischer (Nebraska)

S. 526, the “Microloan Modernization Act of 2017”, introduced by Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska, modernizes the SBA’s Microloan Program to reach more of our nation’s entrepreneurs.  The bill lifts the microloan intermediary caps from $5 to $6 million and eliminates the 25% pre-loan and 75% post-loan technical assistance requirements.  This bipartisan legislation will give loan intermediaries more flexibility to design support services that address the specific needs of borrowers, and help get more borrowers loan ready.

2)  Save Critical Funding for Entrepreneurial Support Programs

AEO is asking all its members and supporters to call their Member of Congress and urge them to support fiscal year 2018 small business lending. In particular, there are three cornerstone programs that provide critical support to entrepreneurs, especially in economically distressed areas. These include the Treasury’s CDFI Fund and the SBA’s PRIME and Microloan programs.  

  • CDFI Fund (Treasury)-- $250 million
    • Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are private financial institutions that are 100% dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged communities.  This program has been targeted for elimination in the President’s FY2018 budget
  • SBA PRIME Program -- $10 million
    • Program for Investment in Micro-entrepreneurs (PRIME) provides assistance to organizations that help low-income entrepreneurs who lack sufficient training and education to gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses.
  • SBA Microloan Program:  
    • The Microloan program provides loans to qualified non-profit intermediary lenders who, in turn, provide small-dollar loans and technical assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs. 

Here is a letter Bipartisan letter sent by Representatives Steve Knight and Stephanie Murphy to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee supporting the SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development and Capital Access Programs.  As the House begins the process of considering FY2018 appropriations, this letter mentions the Microloan Program, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE among others for robust funding in the coming fiscal year.  It was signed by 39 House Members and submitted prior the subcommittee’s deadline for funding requests. 

Budget Requests to Support Core Principles

The work of lenders and counselors is only possible with adequate resources. Each year, AEO submits funding requests for proven programs that have a significant return for the American economy. An important part of our advocacy efforts is ensuring that the programs are fully funded, and we ask that you echo AEO’s requests. 

Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate each draft separate funding bills, which are often different. These differences are worked out between the two Chambers and passed by Congress before being presented to the President. 

Below are AEO’s funding requests for FY2018 you should ask your Member of Congress to support:

Program Request
Treasury CDFI Fund $250M
Treasury CDFI BGP $1B
SBA Microloan - Lending $44M
SBA Microloan - TA $31M
SBA PRIME $10M
SBA WBCs $21.5M

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