Seeking More Small Business

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National Public Radio (NPR)

Congress is looking over a federal program that gives up to $2 billion a year to small businesses, which will run out in September. Mitchell Hartman reports just one area where the program has had success.

Transcript of the story:

Scott Jagow: Today, Congress takes up an issue of great importance to small businesses. There's a federal program that gives money to small companies for R&D -- $2 billion a year. But the funding runs out in September, unless Congress does something about it. Mitchell Hartman reports from our Entrepreneurship Desk.

Mitchell Hartman:
Cybernet Systems in Ann Arbor, Michigan, used an award from the program to invent a robotic device the Army is now using in Kuwait. Heidi Jacobus is CEO.

Heidi Jacobus: So what we can do is recover from vast piles of returned ammunition ammo that is good. That process had been done by hand.

But the House bill would also let high-tech and biotech companies that are owned by venture capital firms bid for the grants.

Emily Mendell of the National Venture Capital Association says these are small businesses, too:

Emily Mendell: There is a common misperception that a company that receives venture capital backing has either one, hit the jackpot, or two, is backed by a large corporation. Neither of which are true.

Small business advocates counter that these firms already have plenty of access to R&D and they'll muscle out true small-scale entrepreneurs.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.