Helping Colorado small businesses as they start and grow

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Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. Whether it’s Heart of Jersualem’s gyros, Dogtooth’s coffee, Zeezo’s costumes or Bristol’s microbrews, small businesses contribute in a substantial way to the Pikes Peak economy.

During National Small Business Week, we recognize them.

Nationally, more than half of all Americans own or work for a small business, and create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. In Colorado alone, more than 500,000 small businesses employ roughly half of our state’s private-sector workforce.

This is also an ideal opportunity to examine how we support small businesses and what we can do better. Government doesn’t create jobs; business owners create jobs. But government can help create the conditions where business owners thrive.

Part of that means creating mutually beneficial incentives, such as offering individual investors equity in start-up businesses via crowdfunding. Or providing a tax break for producing wind power – the wind production tax credit, also known as the wind PTC – which supports small businesses throughout the supply chain. Or allowing mortgage lenders to consider a home’s utility cost when determining a loan, a bill called the SAVE Act, which incentivizes the purchase of energy-efficient homes and supports small businesses that make them, or help with upgrades.

It means removing outdated regulations and streamlining processes, like our work to expedite the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process for certain lifesaving drugs, helping companies get important treatments to the market and patients faster, and our work with the Departments of State and Commerce to remove antiquated regulations on the types of satellite components American businesses — like the more than 400 that comprise Colorado’s aerospace industry — can export. 

Good government is about more than writing and passing laws. It’s about identifying needs and providing resources. As a liaison between the federal government and Colorado businesses, our office is dedicated to helping Coloradans navigate what can be a complicated bureaucracy and a mountain of red tape.

It’s no surprise then that we often stumble upon the same questions from current or prospective business owners. For every business owner who approaches our office with a question, several more have the same question but don’t know to even turn to us for help.

To solve these issues, this week, we’re launching our Small Business Resource Guide: http://www.bennet.senate.gov/colorado-business-in-high-gear. It contains many questions we hear, such as How do I start a business? How do I win a federal contract? How do I raise money?

The guide is interactive, brief and written in terms you can understand. The answers are out there, and this guide helps match your needs with resources.  Are you a business in one of Colorado’s rural areas? You could qualify for a low-interest loan or grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA provided nearly $30 million in rural development loans and grants to Colorado businesses last year alone.

Maybe you’re a small business thinking about exporting products. Did you know the federal government offers a Market Research Library of more than 100,000 industry and country market reports? 

Or perhaps you’re a small defense firm trying to win a government contract. Did you know the Defense Department offers services like the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which helps small businesses successfully compete for prime contract and subcontract awards?

Our resource guide isn’t an ending point. It’s a starting point where you’ll find the many state and federal resources available to Colorado small businesses. We hope you find it useful.

Sen. Michael Bennet has represented Colorado in the Senate since 2009.