(Jan. 29) – A central component of the House Democrats’ jobs and economic development package took a step forward today when a bill to increase funding for the state’s Small Business Development Center system was approved by the House Business, Labor & Economic & Workforce Development Committee.
HB13-1002, sponsored by Rep. Max Tyler (D-Lakewood), would boost funding for the SBDC system by $1 million over two years.
A network of 14 SBDCs around the state provide coaching and consultation to startup companies needing help with such basics as writing a business plan and securing capital. Rep. Tyler testified that with only $85,000 in state dollars in 2011, companies seeking training and consultation from SBDCs produced 1,700 new jobs, the highest rate of return for any economic development program in Colorado.
Some of the additional money would go to developing a marketing program for SBDCs. Several testifiers said many entrepreneurs are unaware of the centers.
Business groups like the Jefferson County Business Lobby, the Economic Development Council of Colorado and the Colorado Competitive Council testified in favor of the bill.
The 6-5 party-line vote to send HB13-1002 to the Appropriations Committee came a year after the 2012 version of the bill was approved in its first committee on a bipartisan 10-3 vote. That bill was ultimately defeated by the Republicans.
By the same party-line vote, the committee also approved another component of the Democratic jobs package – a bill by Reps. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) and Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) to implement an “economic gardening” program at the state level. The program would provide management and technical assistance to businesses that have advanced beyond the startup phase, complementing the SBDC program.