Michigan Business Leaders Urge Renewal of Nation’s Main Small Business Initiative Before Support Lapses

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Press Desk of Senator Debbie Stabenow

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Michigan business leaders today urged the Senate to renew the nation's main small business initiative, which is set to expire soon.  The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) initiative was created under President Reagan in 1982 and helps small businesses engage in innovative research and development.  Since its inception, 1,762 partnerships have been formed with Michigan businesses to help them expand and create jobs.  The Senate is currently debating SBIR renewal.

"Small businesses create two-thirds of all new jobs in America.  Creating an environment that allows small businesses to innovate and grow must be top priority," said Sen. Stabenow.  "When small businesses have to wonder whether the rug could be pulled out from under them if this initiative expires creates a great deal of uncertainty.  We need to provide small businesses with the confidence they need to invest and create jobs."

"I know Senator Stabenow has always been a stalwart advocate for Michigan small businesses, and I am glad she is leading the effort to extend the successful Small Business Innovation Research initiative," said Heidi Jacobus, founder, Chairman and CEO of Cybernet Systems Corporation, an SBIR participating business in Ann Arbor.  "This program has helped Cybernet grow from a one person operation to a 60 employee engineering firm that delivers innovative results at hourly rates less than those of larger firms."

"Our country's small businesses are the incubators of new technological breakthroughs that drive America forward," said Jerry Hollister, Chief Operating Officer of Niowave, a Lansing-based business producing superconducting particle accelerators that has been nominated for the Department of Energy's national SBIR business of the year.  "Our company would not have been able to grow like we have in Michigan without SBIR participation.  Allowing this support for small business innovation to expire would be a terrible mistake."

Other Michigan companies participating in SBIR include A123, which opened the largest lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in North America in Livonia, creating more than 400 jobs.

SBIR is a competitive program that encourages American-owned and independently operated small businesses to reach their technological potential by providing them with critical support during a new technology's startup and development stages.  By including qualified small businesses in the nation's Research and Development arena, high-tech innovation is fostered, jobs are created, and the United States has a better business climate that helps the country stay competitive with research and development.

Small businesses produce more than 13 times more patents than large businesses and employ nearly 40 percent of America's scientists and engineers, and SBIR-backed companies have been a wealth of innovation.  Studies show SBIR-backed firms have been responsible for roughly 25% of the nation's most crucial innovations over the past decade and account for 38% of America's patents.  However, the risk and expense of conducting major R&D efforts are often beyond the means of many small businesses, which is why SBIR participation is so crucial for so many entrepreneurs.  Without Senate action, the SBIR initiative will vanish at the end of May.

SBIR technology is used in hi-tech goods from the military's Bradley tank to the B-2 Bomber pilot alert system, communication antennas for first responders in disaster zones, vehicles for fire fighters combating wildfires, sensors used to detect brain injuries for high school athletes, and even electric toothbrushes.