Sen. Markey Joins Bipartisan Effort To Prioritize Broadband Access For Small Businesses

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The following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey, who was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat.

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WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, announced she’s reintroduced bipartisan legislation with U.S. Senators Kennedy (R-LA), Ernst (R-IA), Hirono (D-HI), Risch (R-ID) and Markey (D-MA) that would improve programs operated by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address problems associated with a lack of broadband internet and other emerging information technology resources, and better assist small businesses in accessing and successfully adopting these tools.

Access to broadband services in rural areas throughout New Hampshire and the country has become a top concern amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses and workers continue working remotely.

“The economic fallout from COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated existing problems that for too long have hurt small businesses, particularly those in rural areas where access to broadband is limited. This bill will improve SBA programs to help them meet these challenges,” said Shaheen. “This is a common-sense, bipartisan bill that will prioritize broadband access at the federal level. I urge members on both sides of the aisle to join us in this effort.”

“Now more than ever, broadband is essential to ensuring that America’s small businesses can compete on a level playing field in the global economy,” said Ed Markey. “SBA’s resources must include the opportunity for all small businesses to access to this critical utility, and this legislation puts us on a path to making that a reality.”

Specifically, the Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act would make the following improvements to the SBA’s approach to broadband:

  • Directing the SBA Office of Investment and Innovation to designate a senior employee to serve as the broadband and emerging information technology (BEIT) coordinator;
  • Providing SBA employees BEIT training to assist small businesses in the use of such technologies;
  • Reporting on a biennial basis regarding the programs and activities of the SBA relating to broadband and other emerging information technologies;
  • Requiring the SBA Chief Counsel for Advocacy to evaluate the impact of broadband speed and price on small businesses; and
  • Making services such as assistance in accessing and using BEIT an authorized activity of small business development centers (SBDCs).

Bill text is available here.

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