Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), member and former chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business, made the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery, as he chaired a field hearing on small business issues in Boise today:
"Today’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will come to order.
"Thank you to everyone who made the time to be here today to discuss this very important topic.
"Before we get started, I’d like to recognize Jessica Flynn, CEO and President of Red Sky agency in Boise Idaho and the National Women’s Business Council’s newest member.
"I nominated Ms. Flynn because I know her background makes her an important asset to advocate for women’s entrepreneurship.
"Jessica has been instrumental to our community. She is an active member of the Boise Valley Economic Partnership, the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, Commissioner on the City of Boise Arts and History Department Commission, and an Honorary Commander of the Idaho Air National Guard.
"Jessica will be a terrific addition to the National Women’s Business Council.
"I look forward to supporting your efforts on the council representing Idaho’s women owned businesses.
"As many of you have noticed, Idaho is changing.
"Advancements in technology, commerce and communication have expanded our global economy to new reaches, and as a result Idaho is now attracting more entrepreneurs to our state who were once bound to the confines of Silicon Valley, Seattle, or Wall Street.
"It is estimated that roughly 100 people move to Idaho a day. In 2018, Forbes rated Boise as the fastest growing city in America, and home prices increased by 11.5 percent, well above the national average of about 5 percent.
"Idaho’s western neighbors are states with high tax burdens, extraordinarily high costs of living and big government.
"It’s no wonder people are flocking to the great State of Idaho to take advantage of our low cost of living, minimal crime and business friendly tax climate.
"After all, that’s why many of us came to Idaho to begin with.
"People are seeing the beauty that Idaho has to offer and they want to be a part of it.
"With this new demographic shift and a changing global economy comes new obstacles and new opportunities.
"While ideas are being fostered within our state, much of the early state capital and federal resources are still located outside.
"For this hearing today I’d like to highlight the important activity happening at the local, state and federal level that is facilitating small business start-ups, spurring innovation, and creating jobs.
"I’d also like to discuss some of the ways we can make Idaho more competitive for business success.
"Leaders in our community are already starting to lean in to this opportunity by hosting Boise Start-up Week, creating work space for innovative thinkers to grow their ideas, and most importantly, creating jobs for the folks living here.
"As the former Chairman of this committee, I have consistently advocated for policies that encourage innovation and sustainable investment into our communities while ensuring there is proper oversight.
"However, there is still much work to be done. While there is much happening at the local and state level, Idaho lacks some great federal resources that put some Idahoan small businesses at a disadvantage compared to those located in states where SBA resources are plentiful.
"Specifically, Idaho is one of a few states that does not have a Women’s Business Center to provide technical assistance to women business owners in Idaho.
"I’ve worked closely with former Administrator McMahon to reopen and expand the application process for the program in Idaho. While the application closed mid-April, I feel confident that Idaho will open a Women’s Business Center in the near future.
"Idaho also lacks a licensed Small Business Investment Company (SBIC). SBICs are privately-owned and managed investment funds that use their own capital – plus funds borrowed with an SBA guaranty - to invest in innovative small businesses.
"Investors who choose to invest in an SBIC can receive Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) credit and are exempt from certain regulations making it attractive for investors and banks who want to reinvest in their local communities.
"There is immense value in having early-stage investment come from within Idaho, not Wall Street or Silicon Valley. That is why I hope this hearing will shed light on this resource and encourage local funds to apply to become a licensed SBIC.
"Last Congress as Chairman, I worked to enact a bill Senator Rubio introduced to make it easier for Idaho and other states to gain access to Small Business Administration resources like the SBIC program.
"In addition, I was able to enact my bill, the Small Business Investment in Opportunity Act, into law.
"This bill increased the amount of capital Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) can invest in qualified small businesses and encourages the private market to invest in start-up businesses with fresh ideas."It is important that Idaho have access to all resources to put our businesses on a fair playing field and to compete in the global arena."