Shaheen-sponsored bill seeks to expand broadband resources for small businesses

Measure would enhance SBA programs to broaden access
Jeanne Shaheen Hearing

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen D-NH, has joined with Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, in reintroducing legislation that they say would reinforce programs aimed at beefing up small businesses’ access to broadband internet and emerging resources.

The Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act targets programs under the auspices of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The programs, aimed at expanding access to broadband for small businesses in rural and under-served areas, need improvement and more resources to address a problem that came to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bill would:

  • Direct the SBA Office of Investment and Innovation to designate a senior employee to serve as the broadband and emerging information technology (BEIT) coordinator
  • Provide SBA employees with BEIT training to assist small businesses in the use of such technologies
  • Report on a biennial basis regarding the programs and activities of the SBA relating to broadband and other emerging information technologies
  • Require the SBA chief counsel for advocacy to evaluate the impact of broadband speed and price on small businesses
  • Make services, such as assistance in accessing and using BEIT, an authorized activity of small business development centers

Shaheen said the bill

“As we begin to put the pandemic behind us and businesses resume their operations, they need tools to boost their resilience moving forward,” said Shaheen. “Reliable broadband is key to their success.”

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