Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

May 25 2018

Heitkamp Helps Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Rural Small Businesses, Boost Access to Capital

Senator’s Bill Would Expand SEC’s Authority to Review Regulations Specifically Impacting Small Businesses & Startups in Rural America

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp helped introduce a bipartisan bill to give small businesses a seat at the table in federal rulemaking procedures impacting access to capital and investor protection, particularly in rural areas.

Small businesses account for nearly 99 percent of North Dakota’s employers and nearly 60 percent of all jobs in the state. According to a recent Federal Reserve survey, nearly half of rural small businesses nationwide lack sufficient financing to expand. However, rural small businesses present far less credit risk for potential financing or investors, as 71 percent of rural small businesses pose a low credit risk. This bill would make sure policymakers are focused on rural economic growth and small businesses as new rules are crafted governing the U.S. investment marketplace.

“While travelling across rural North Dakota, I meet so many talented folks who want to build new businesses in their hometowns. But often, these potential entrepreneurs face difficult challenges in accessing the capital needed to grow their stores, farms, and restaurants,” said Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Banking Committee. “This legislation builds off of the great work we did in passing my bill to provide additional focus on the needs of rural entrepreneurs. Now, our new bipartisan bill will provide the Advocate with additional tools to monitor economic conditions and foster the necessary environment for innovation in rural America. We must keep working to level the playing field for small businesses as they look for the additional funding to boost job opportunities in their communities.”

This bill builds on Heitkamp’s SEC Small Business Advocate Act, which was signed into law in December 2016 and created the Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation within the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – the nation’s regulatory authority on protecting investors and keeping the U.S. marketplace fair and efficient. Heitkamp’s new Expanding Access to Capital for Rural Job Creators Act would expand the focus areas of the Advocate to include rural-area small businesses. Additionally, the bill would require that the Advocate’s annual report focus on the challenges rural-area small business face accessing capital, so that Congress can make better-informed decisions on how to catalyze economic growth in rural America.

Heitkamp introduced the bipartisan legislation with U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D-AL), Dean Heller (R-NV), and John Kennedy (R-LA).

Since arriving in the U.S. Senate. Heitkamp has continued to fight for new ways to expand access to capital and encourage economic development in rural communities. Earlier this week, Heitkamp joined the president at the White House for the signing of her bipartisan bill which she helped write and introduce over several years to boost economic growth in rural communities and protect North Dakota consumers. The bill was the result of more than 20 Senate Banking Committee hearings on regulatory reform and economic growth since 2015 that Heitkamp has been part of, more than 30 discussions she has had with top financial regulators about the issue, and years of negotiations among a small group of senators that she played a key role in.

And earlier this month, Heitkamp called on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy to analyze the impact of the administration’s tariff policies on American small businesses. Heitkamp has repeatedly raised concerns about the potential impacts of possible retaliatory tariffs on industries vital to North Dakota’s economy like agriculture and manufacturing.

Background

As a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, Heitkamp has long pushed for providing small businesses and entrepreneurs with a strong voice at the federal level.

In April 2018, Heitkamp hosted a roundtable discussion in Jamestown to highlight successful women-owned small businesses in the community and discuss collaborative strategies to encourage and support women entrepreneurs. During the event, they discussed how the federal government and the SBA can help women business owners overcome unique challenges.

And in March 2017, Heitkamp reintroduced the bipartisan Supporting America’s Innovators Act with Heller to help encourage investments in small businesses and startups in smaller communities. Her bill was signed into law this week as part of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.

In the Fargo-Moorhead region, about a third of startups identified accessing early stage funding as the greatest hurdle to growing their business. Heitkamp introduced her SEED Act in 2016 to tackle that problem by investing in promising startups in ten small cities in rural states. In addition, Heitkamp brought then-U.S. Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet to North Dakota in July 2015 to meet with North Dakota successful women-owned small businesses, and to hold the first U.S. Senate Committee on Small Businesses field hearing in Fargo on how to better support startups in rural areas.

In 2014, Heitkamp recommended Kari Warberg Block for a position on the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) that she served on for three years. The NWBC is a federal Council comprised of 15 women from around the country that advise the President, Congress, and the SBA on economic issues and concerns relevant to women business owners nationwide. Warberg Block was also honored as North Dakota’s 2013 Small Business Owner of the Year. Last August, Heitkamp joined Warberg Block in a women’s small business roundtable in Bismarck to discuss methods and policies that would support women entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

###
 

Contact Senator Heitkamp's press office at press@heitkamp.senate.gov