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House passes Barrow amendment to boost minority share in grants
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. John Barrow (D-Savannah) on Tuesday that can significantly improve minority participation in federal contracts for research and development.

The amendment, which was included in the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Reauthorization Act (H.R. 5819), authorizes the Small Business Administration to establish a pilot program to provide matching grants to minority-serving educational institutions, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to develop programs that encourage minority participation in SBIR-STTR programs. The Small Business Innovation Research program awards competitive grants to small businesses to research and develop new ideas for selected government agencies. The Small Business Technology Transfer program awards similar grants for small businesses that work with a nonprofit research institute.

In 2004, the latest year for which there is available data, less than 10 percent of SBIR funds and awards went to minority and disadvantaged small businesses.  

“SBIR and STTR are at the forefront of ensuring that American small businesses remain competitive in the global economy,” Barrow said. “But, too often, minority and disadvantaged small businesses don’t even know about these grants. If they don’t know about them, they can’t compete for them.

“HBCUs and local nonprofit research institutions have experience in connecting small businesses with government contracts, and my amendment allows them to work together to increase minority-owned businesses participation in government contracting. That’s good for the government when it’s the customer, that’s good for the taxpayers, and that’s good for the economy.”