October 20, 2020

Castro, Larsen, Wagner, Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Small Businesses and Promote International Commerce

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Vice Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairman of its Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee; Congresswoman Ann Wagner (MO-02), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Financial Services Committee; and Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and House Armed Services Committee, introduced the Global Small Business Network Act which would support the establishment of small business development centers internationally and promote international commerce, extending the network in Southeast Asia.

“As we confront this global pandemic, it’s imperative that we invest in supporting small businesses and increasing opportunities for firms to expand into new markets abroad. “said Congressman Castro.  “That’s why as a as a co-chair of the Congressional ASEAN Caucus, I am proud to introduce the Global Small Business Network Act, which will support the establishment of small business development centers in Latin America and the Caribbean and extends the program into Southeast Asia. The University of Texas at San Antonio small business development center is an international leader in this effort, and I appreciate their partnership on this legislation that will directly benefit small businesses.”

“I appreciate working with my colleague Congressman Castro to introduce this important legislation that will support jobs here at home while working with our strategic partners across the world.” said Congresswoman Wagner. “As co-chair of the Congressional ASEAN Caucus, I have seen firsthand how the Southeast Asian region can partner economically with our businesses in the United States. This legislation is a great opportunity to build on that ongoing relationship and promote small business development centers that will help our economy at such a volatile time.”    

“Small business owners in Washington state – the most trade dependent state in the U.S. – need the tools to compete globally,” said Congressman Larsen, a Co-Chair of the New Democrat Coalition Trade Task Force. “This legislation will help U.S. small businesses grow in Southeast Asia and create more jobs here in the Pacific Northwest and across the U.S.”

“The UTSA Institute for Economic Development has a decades-long successful track record of helping small businesses across the Americas grow and prosper,” said Cliff Paredes, Director, UTSA Center for Global Development. “We have helped 22 countries adopt SBDC methodology, and we are eager to provide the same professional assistance to other regions of the world. This introduced Global Small Business Network legislation will promote the continued expansion of the SBDC model to other regions of the world and will open markets for U.S. small businesses.”       


Small businesses across the United States have benefitted from access to technical assistance, regulatory guidance, and educational programs through small business development centers (SBDC) in the United States. The SBDC model has successfully been adopted in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, through assistance from the Small Business Network of the Americas’ initiative funded through the Department of State. The Global Small Business Network Act would support and enhance this work to promote sustainable and inclusive development in the Americas that also has tangible benefits for small business owners’ in the United States. It would also expand the current State Department’s program to include Southeast Asia and emphasize connectivity between the United States and partner countries, through the network of small business development centers.

This legislation will enhance the ability of small businesses in the United States to export to foreign markets and take part in international commerce; authorize $1 million for Small Business Network of the Americas and $1 million for the ASEAN Small Business Network; and support economic security in partner countries by assisting countries in promoting small businesses and entrepreneurship.

You can view the full legislative text here.