PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Support Letter for “NEW START ACT of 2019” (S. 1077)

By at 13 May, 2019, 3:34 pm

 

The Honorable Marco Rubio

Chairman

U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business
& Entrepreneurship

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Benjamin L. Cardin

Ranking Member

U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business
& Entrepreneurship

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Chairman Rubio and Ranking Member Cardin:

On behalf of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), I am writing to express our support for the NEW START Act of 2019 (S. 1077). The legislation, introduced by Ranking Member Cardin, creates a 5-year pilot program within the Small Business Administration (SBA) to award grants to organizations, or partnerships between organizations, to provide business counseling and entrepreneurial development training to individuals released from prison.

The high rate of recidivism among released prisoners hurts families, and is costly to our country. A primary driver of high rates is the fact that returning citizens find it very challenging to secure employment – up to 60 percent of ex-offenders remain unemployed one year after their release. Entrepreneurial development programs for formerly incarcerated individuals report dramatically lower rates of recidivism. Self-employment provides an independent path to economic stability for those who may not be able to secure a job.

As we already witnessed through the FIRST STEP Act, many lives have been positively transformed. The NEW START Act of 2019 is another important opportunity to provide individuals with life-changing skills that will allow them to meaningfully participate in their communities and our economy.

Since SBE Council’s founding 25 years ago, incarcerated individuals have regularly contacted our organization through the mail in search of educational material and assistance that can help them understand the basics of starting a business.  We have responded by sending packets that include “how to” information – along with encouragement – in the hopes that they will indeed pursue entrepreneurship once they are released from prison. In their letters, these prisoners have communicated that business ownership may indeed be their only option for generating income once they’re released into the community. So, we have experienced, first-hand, the demand for a NEW START-type program.

SBE Council believes the NEW START Act will provide a needed service to productive reentry, which will reduce recidivism. We strongly support this important legislation.

Sincerely,

Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO

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