S. 3197 (112th): Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2012

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of May 17, 2012 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

II

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 3197

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

May 17, 2012

(for herself and Ms. Landrieu) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

A BILL

To reauthorize the women's business center program of the Small Business Administration, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Women's Small Business Ownership Act of 2012.

2.

Definition

In this Act, the term Administrator means the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

3.

Office of Women’s Business Ownership

(a)

In general

Section 29(g) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 656(g)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (2)—

(A)

in subparagraph (B)—

(i)

in clause (i), by striking “in the areas” and all that follows through the end of subclause (I), and inserting the following: “to address issues concerning the management, operations, manufacturing, technology, finance, retail and product sales, international trade, Government contracting, and other disciplines required for—

(I)

starting, operating, and increasing the business of a small business concern;

; and

(ii)

in clause (ii), by striking Women's Business Center program each place that term appears and inserting women's business center program; and

(B)

in subparagraph (C), by inserting before the period at the end the following: , the National Women’s Business Council, and any association of women’s business centers; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following:

(3)

Training

The Administrator may provide annual programmatic and financial examination training for women’s business ownership representatives and district office technical representatives of the Administration to enable representatives to carry out their responsibilities.

(4)

Program and transparency improvements

The Administrator shall maximize the transparency of the women’s business center financial assistance proposal process and the programmatic and financial examination process by—

(A)

providing public notice of any announcement for financial assistance under subsection (b) or a grant under subsection (l) not later than the end of the first quarter of each fiscal year;

(B)

in the announcement described in subparagraph (A), outlining award and program evaluation criteria and describing the weighting of the criteria for financial assistance under subsection (b) and grants under subsection (l);

(C)

minimizing paperwork and reporting requirements for applicants for and recipients of financial assistance under this section;

(D)

standardizing the programmatic and financial examination process; and

(E)

providing to each women’s business center, not later than 60 days after the completion of a site visit to the women's business center (whether conducted for an audit, performance review, or other reason), a copy of any site visit reports or evaluation reports prepared by district office technical representatives or officers or employees of the Administration.

.

(b)

Change of title

(1)

In general

Section 29 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 656) is amended—

(A)

in subsection (a)—

(i)

by striking paragraphs (1) and (4);

(ii)

by redesignating paragraphs (2) and (3) as paragraphs (4) and (5), respectively; and

(iii)

by inserting before paragraph (4), as so redesignated, the following:

(2)

the term Director means the Director of the Office of Women's Business Ownership established under subsection (g);

;

(B)

by striking Assistant Administrator each place that term appears and inserting Director; and

(C)

in subsection (g)(2), in the paragraph heading, by striking Assistant Administrator and inserting Director.

(2)

Women's Business Ownership Act of 1988

Title IV of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 (15 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.) is amended—

(A)

in section 403(a)(2)(B), by striking Assistant Administrator and inserting Director;

(B)

in section 405, by striking Assistant Administrator and inserting Director; and

(C)

in section 406(c), by striking Assistant Administrator and inserting Director.

4.

Women’s Business Center Program

(a)

Women’s Business Center financial assistance

Section 29 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 656) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (a), as amended by section 3(b) of this Act—

(A)

by inserting before paragraph (2) the following:

(1)

the term association of women’s business centers means an organization—

(A)

that represents not less than 51 percent of the women’s business centers that participate in a program under this section; and

(B)

whose primary purpose is to represent women’s business centers;

;

(B)

by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:

(3)

the term eligible entity means—

(A)

a private nonprofit organization;

(B)

a State, regional, or local economic development organization;

(C)

a development, credit, or finance corporation chartered by a State;

(D)

a junior or community college, as defined in section 312(f) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1058(f)); or

(E)

any combination of entities listed in subparagraphs (A) through (D);

;

(C)

in paragraph (4), by striking and at the end;

(D)

in paragraph (5), by striking the period at the end and inserting ; and; and

(E)

by adding after paragraph (5) the following:

(6)

the term women's business center means a project conducted by an eligible entity under this section.

;

(2)

in subsection (b)—

(A)

by redesignating paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) as subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C), and adjusting the margins accordingly;

(B)

by striking The Administration and all that follows through 5-year projects and inserting the following:

(1)

In general

The Administration may provide financial assistance to an eligible entity to conduct a project under this section

;

(C)

by striking The projects shall and inserting the following:

(2)

Use of funds

The project shall be designed to provide training and counseling that meets the needs of women, especially socially and economically disadvantaged women, and shall

; and

(D)

by adding at the end the following:

(3)

Amount of financial assistance

(A)

In general

The Administrator may award financial assistance under this subsection of not less than $100,000 and not more than $150,000 per year.

(B)

Lower amount

The Administrator may award financial assistance under this subsection to a recipient in an amount that is less than $100,000 if the Administrator determines that the recipient is unable to make a non-Federal contribution of $100,000 or more, as required under subsection (c).

(C)

Equal allocations

If the Administration has insufficient funds to provide financial assistance of not less than $100,000 for each recipient of financial assistance under this subsection in any fiscal year, the Administrator shall provide an equal amount of financial assistance to each recipient in the fiscal year, unless a recipient requests a lower amount than the allocated amount.

(4)

Consultation with associations of women’s business centers

The Administrator shall consult with each association of women’s business centers to develop—

(A)

a training program for the staff of women’s business centers and the Administration; and

(B)

recommendations to improve the policies and procedures for governing the general operations and administration of the women’s business center program, including grant program improvements under subsection (g)(4).

;

(3)

in subsection (c)—

(A)

in paragraph (1) by striking the recipient organization and inserting an eligible entity;

(B)

in paragraph (3), in the second sentence, by striking a recipient organization and inserting an eligible entity;

(C)

in paragraph (4)—

(i)

by striking recipient of assistance and inserting eligible entity;

(ii)

by striking such organization and inserting the eligible entity; and

(iii)

by striking recipient and inserting eligible entity; and

(D)

in paragraph (5)—

(i)

in subparagraph (A), by striking a recipient organization and inserting an eligible entity; and

(ii)

by striking the recipient organization each place it appears and inserting the eligible entity; and

(E)

by adding at end the following:

(6)

Separation of project and funds

An eligible entity shall—

(A)

carry out a project under this section separately from other projects, if any, of the eligible entity; and

(B)

separately maintain and account for any financial assistance under this section.

;

(4)

in subsection (e)—

(A)

by striking applicant organization and inserting eligible entity;

(B)

by striking a recipient organization and inserting an eligible entity; and

(C)

by striking site;

(5)

by striking subsection (f) and inserting the following:

(f)

Applications and criteria for initial financial assistance

(1)

Application

Each eligible entity desiring financial assistance under subsection (b) shall submit to the Administrator an application that contains—

(A)

a certification that the eligible entity—

(i)

has designated an executive director or program manager, who may be compensated using financial assistance under subsection (b) or other sources, to manage the center on a full-time basis;

(ii)

as a condition of receiving financial assistance under subsection (b), agrees—

(I)

to receive a site visit by the Administrator as part of the final selection process;

(II)

to undergo an annual programmatic and financial examination; and

(III)

to the maximum extent practicable, to remedy any problems identified pursuant to the site visit or examination under subclause (I) or (II); and

(iii)

meets the accounting and reporting requirements established by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget;

(B)

information demonstrating that the eligible entity has the ability and resources to meet the needs of the market to be served by the women's business center for which financial assistance under subsection (b) is sought, including the ability to obtain the non-Federal contribution required under subsection (c);

(C)

information relating to the assistance to be provided by the women's business center for which financial assistance under subsection (b) is sought in the area in which the women's business center is located;

(D)

information demonstrating the experience and effectiveness of the eligible entity in—

(i)

conducting financial, management, and marketing assistance programs, as described in subsection (b)(2), which are designed to teach or upgrade the business skills of women who are business owners or potential business owners;

(ii)

providing training and services to a representative number of women who are socially and economically disadvantaged; and

(iii)

working with resource partners of the Administration and other entities, such as universities; and

(E)

a 5-year plan that describes the ability of the women's business center for which financial assistance is sought—

(i)

to serve women who are business owners or potential business owners by conducting training and counseling activities; and

(ii)

to provide training and services to a representative number of women who are socially and economically disadvantaged.

(2)

Additional information

The Administrator shall make any request for additional information from an organization applying for financial assistance under subsection (b) that was not requested in the original announcement in writing.

(3)

Review and approval of applications for initial financial assistance

(A)

In general

The Administrator shall—

(i)

review each application submitted under paragraph (1), based on the information described in such paragraph and the criteria set forth under subparagraph (B) of this paragraph; and

(ii)

to the extent practicable, as part of the final selection process, conduct a site visit to each women's business center for which financial assistance under subsection (b) is sought.

(B)

Selection criteria

(i)

In general

The Administrator shall evaluate applicants for financial assistance under subsection (b) in accordance with selection criteria that are—

(I)

established before the date on which applicants are required to submit the applications;

(II)

stated in terms of relative importance; and

(III)

publicly available and stated in each solicitation for applications for financial assistance under subsection (b) made by the Administrator.

(ii)

Required criteria

The selection criteria for financial assistance under subsection (b) shall include—

(I)

the experience of the applicant in conducting programs or ongoing efforts designed to teach or enhance the business skills of women who are business owners or potential business owners;

(II)

the ability of the applicant to begin a project within a minimum amount of time;

(III)

the ability of the applicant to provide training and services to a representative number of women who are socially and economically disadvantaged; and

(IV)

the location for the women's business center proposed by the applicant, including whether the applicant is located in a State in which there is not a women's business center receiving funding from the Administration.

(C)

Proximity

If the principal place of business of an applicant for financial assistance under subsection (b) is located less than 50 miles from the principal place of business of a women’s business center that received funds under this section on or before the date of the application, the applicant shall not be eligible for the financial assistance, unless the applicant submits a detailed written justification of the need for an additional center in the area in which the applicant is located.

(D)

Record retention

The Administrator shall maintain a copy of each application submitted under this subsection for not less than 7 years.

; and

(6)

in subsection (m)—

(A)

by striking paragraph (3) and inserting the following:

(3)

Application and approval for renewal grants

(A)

Solicitation of applications

The Administrator shall solicit applications and award grants under this subsection for the first fiscal year beginning after the date of enactment of the Women's Small Business Ownership Act of 2012, and every third fiscal year thereafter.

(B)

Contents of application

Each eligible entity desiring a grant under this subsection shall submit to the Administrator an application that contains—

(i)

a certification that the applicant—

(I)

is an eligible entity;

(II)

has designated a full-time executive director or program manager to manage the women's business center operated by the applicant; and

(III)

as a condition of receiving a grant under this subsection, agrees—

(aa)

to receive a site visit as part of the final selection process;

(bb)

to submit, for the 2 full fiscal years before the date on which the application is submitted, annual programmatic and financial examination reports or certified copies of the compliance supplemental audits under OMB Circular A–133 of the applicant; and

(cc)

to remedy any problem identified pursuant to the site visit or examination under item (aa) or (bb);

(ii)

information demonstrating that the applicant has the ability and resources to meet the needs of the market to be served by the women's business center for which a grant under this subsection is sought, including the ability to obtain the non-Federal contribution required under paragraph (4)(C);

(iii)

information relating to assistance to be provided by the women's business center in the area served by the women's business center for which a grant under this subsection is sought;

(iv)

information demonstrating that the applicant has worked with resource partners of the Administration and other entities;

(v)

a 3-year plan that describes the ability of the women's business center for which a grant under this subsection is sought—

(I)

to serve women who are business owners or potential business owners by conducting training and counseling activities; and

(II)

to provide training and services to a representative number of women who are socially and economically disadvantaged; and

(vi)

any additional information that the Administrator may reasonably require.

(C)

Review and approval of applications for grants

(i)

In general

The Administrator shall—

(I)

review each application submitted under subparagraph (B), based on the information described in such subparagraph and the criteria set forth under clause (ii) of this subparagraph; and

(II)

whenever practicable, as part of the final selection process, conduct a site visit to each women's business center for which a grant under this subsection is sought.

(ii)

Selection criteria

(I)

In general

The Administrator shall evaluate applicants for grants under this subsection in accordance with selection criteria that are—

(aa)

established before the date on which applicants are required to submit the applications;

(bb)

stated in terms of relative importance; and

(cc)

publicly available and stated in each solicitation for applications for grants under this subsection made by the Administrator.

(II)

Required criteria

The selection criteria for a grant under this subsection shall include—

(aa)

the total number of entrepreneurs served by the applicant;

(bb)

the total number of new startup companies assisted by the applicant;

(cc)

the percentage of clients of the applicant that are socially or economically disadvantaged; and

(dd)

the percentage of individuals in the community served by the applicant who are socially or economically disadvantaged.

(iii)

Conditions for continued funding

In determining whether to make a grant under this subsection, the Administrator—

(I)

shall consider the results of the most recent evaluation of the women's business center for which a grant under this subsection is sought, and, to a lesser extent, previous evaluations; and

(II)

may withhold a grant under this subsection, if the Administrator determines that the applicant has failed to provide the information required to be provided under this paragraph, or the information provided by the applicant is inadequate.

(D)

Notification

Not later than 60 days after the date of each deadline to submit applications, the Administrator shall approve or deny any application under this paragraph and notify the applicant for each such application of the approval or denial.

(E)

Record retention

The Administrator shall maintain a copy of each application submitted under this paragraph for not less than 7 years.

; and

(B)

by striking paragraph (5) and inserting the following:

(5)

Award to previous recipients

There shall be no limitation on the number of times the Administrator may award a grant to an applicant under this subsection.

.

(b)

Technical and conforming amendments

(1)

In general

Section 29 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 656) is amended—

(A)

in subsection (h)(2), by striking to award a contract (as a sustainability grant) under subsection (l) or;

(B)

in subsection (j)(1), by striking The Administration and inserting Not later than November 1 of each year, the Administrator;

(C)

in subsection (k)—

(i)

by striking paragraphs (1), (2), and (4);

(ii)

by redesignating paragraph (3) as paragraph (5); and

(iii)

by inserting before paragraph (5), as so redesignated, the following:

(1)

In general

There are authorized to be appropriated to the Administration to carry out this section, to remain available until expended, $14,500,000 for each of fiscal years 2013, 2014, and 2015.

(2)

Use of funds

Amounts made available under this subsection may only be used for grant awards and may not be used for costs incurred by the Administration in connection with the management and administration of the program under this section.

(3)

Continuing grant and cooperative agreement authority

(A)

Prompt disbursement

Upon receiving funds to carry out this section for a fiscal year, the Administrator shall, to the extent practicable, promptly reimburse funds to any women’s business center awarded financial assistance under this section if the center meets the eligibility requirements under this section.

(B)

Suspension or termination

If the Administrator has entered into a grant or cooperative agreement with a women's business center under this section, the Administrator may not suspend or terminate the grant or cooperative agreement, unless the Administrator—

(i)

provides the women's business center with written notification setting forth the reasons for that action; and

(ii)

affords the women's business center an opportunity for a hearing, appeal, or other administrative proceeding under chapter 5 of title 5, United States Code.

;

(D)

in subsection (m)—

(i)

in paragraph (2), by striking subsection (b) or (l) and inserting this subsection or subsection (b); and

(ii)

in paragraph (4)(D), by striking or subsection (l); and

(E)

by redesignating subsections (m) and (n), as amended by this Act, as subsections (l) and (m), respectively.

(2)

Prospective repeal

Section 1401(c)(2) of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (15 U.S.C. 636 note) is amended—

(A)

in subparagraph (A), by striking and at the end;

(B)

in subparagraph (B), by striking the period at the end and inserting ; and; and

(C)

by adding at the end the following:

(C)

by redesignating paragraph (6), as added by section 4(a)(3)(E) of the Women's Small Business Ownership Act of 2012, as paragraph (5).

.

(c)

Effect on existing grants

(1)

Terms and conditions

A nonprofit organization receiving a grant under section 29(m) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 656(m)), as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act, shall continue to receive the grant under the terms and conditions in effect for the grant on the day before the date of enactment of this Act, except that the nonprofit organization may not apply for a renewal of the grant under section 29(m)(5) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 656(m)(5)), as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act.

(2)

Length of renewal grant

The Administrator may award a grant under section 29(l) of the Small Business Act, as so redesignated by subsection (b)(5) of this Act, to a nonprofit organization receiving a grant under section 29(m) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 656(m)), as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act, for the period—

(A)

beginning on the day after the last day of the grant agreement under such section 29(m); and

(B)

ending at the end of the third fiscal year beginning after the date of enactment of this Act.

5.

Study and report on economic issues facing women's business centers

(a)

Study

The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a broad study of the unique economic issues facing women's business centers located in covered areas to identify—

(1)

the difficulties such centers face in raising non-Federal funds;

(2)

the difficulties such centers face in competing for financial assistance, non-Federal funds, or other types of assistance;

(3)

the difficulties such centers face in writing grant proposals; and

(4)

other difficulties such centers face because of the economy in the type of covered area in which such centers are located.

(b)

Report

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall submit to Congress a report containing the results of the study under subsection (a), which shall include recommendations, if any, regarding how to—

(1)

address the unique difficulties women's business centers located in covered areas face because of the type of covered area in which such centers are located;

(2)

expand the presence of, and increase the services provided by, women's business centers located in covered areas; and

(3)

best use technology and other resources to better serve women business owners located in covered areas.

(c)

Definition of covered area

In this section, the term covered area means—

(1)

any State that is predominantly rural, as determined by the Administrator;

(2)

any State that is predominantly urban, as determined by the Administrator; and

(3)

any State or territory that is an island.

6.

Study and report on oversight of women's business centers

(a)

Study

The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study of the oversight of women's business centers by the Administrator, which shall include—

(1)

an analysis of the coordination by the Administrator of the activities of women's business centers with the activities of small business development centers, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, and Veteran Business Outreach Centers;

(2)

a comparison of the types of individuals and small business concerns served by women's business centers and the types of individuals and small business concerns served by small business development centers, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, and Veteran Business Outreach Centers; and

(3)

an analysis of performance data for women's business centers that evaluates how well women's business centers are carrying out the mission of women's business centers and serving individuals and small business concerns.

(b)

Report

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall submit to Congress a report containing the results of the study under subsection (a), which shall include recommendations, if any, for eliminating the duplication of services provided by women's business centers, small business development centers, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, and Veteran Business Outreach Centers.