Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gingrey Successfully Defends Funding for University of West Georgia’s Small Business Assistance Program

As Georgia’s unemployment numbers climbed to double digits for the first time in recorded history, Rep. Gingrey went to the floor of the House of Representatives to successfully fight an attempt to eliminate funding for the University of West Georgia’s Small Business Assistance Program. Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona offered an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act to strike out funding for the University of West Georgia. The Amendment was defeated with 342 in opposition and only 89 in support.

This program is a collaboration between the University of West Georgia’s Small Business Development Center and the Carroll County Economic Development Foundation’s Burson Center. Through this program, new and emerging small businesses can access office space, equipment, on-site services, and one-on-one business counseling in Carroll and its neighboring counties – including Paulding, Bartow, Floyd, Polk, and Haralson. The funding secured by Rep. Gingrey would specifically be used to assist veterans returning from overseas who face added challenges during the current economic climate. Congressman Gingrey has a history of opposing wasteful spending while supporting well-vetted, community sponsored requests.

The text, audio, and video of Congressman Gingrey’s defense of this critical small business support program in included below. Click on the link below to view the video of Rep. Gingrey’s remarks.

http://tiny.cc/P4Gk5

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment offered by my friend and colleague from Arizona. I first want to express my thanks to Chairman Serrano and Ranking Member Emerson for their support of my request.

But, I also want to express my gratitude to the gentleman from Arizona for his vigilance and his conviction on reducing the size of government. I share that conviction even as I continue to believe in the importance of ensuring that some portion of the Federal dollars that my constituents send to Washington is returned back to them and our district, preferably through tax relief, but when necessary through direct support of responsible and well-vetted local initiatives.

Like the gentleman from Arizona, I am also frustrated by this process. There is no doubt that Washington spends too much money, and that we need to trim down the size of the Federal government and root out the practices that lead to quid pro quos and unethical expenditures of Federal taxpayer dollars.

As the gentleman from Arizona knows, I have always believed that sunlight is the best disinfectant. In fact, I have been a proponent of earmark reform and have introduced legislation that would not only reduce and equalize the amount of earmarks but also allow Members to return their district’s fair share back to the Treasury.

Now, I recognize that there may be some members who might shudder at the thought of having to come to the floor and defend a request that they have made. Mr. Chairman, I would not have made the request, and I would not be standing here right now if I did not believe in its merit, so I welcome the opportunity to defend it.

Very simply, this $100,000 would go to the University of West Georgia’s Small Business Development Center and their partnership with the Carroll County Economic Development Foundation’s Burson Center to fund the expansion of their small business support center or incubator. This center—which already exists—provides resources ranging from business counseling, to temporary office space, to technical support, and access to an on-line database of Angle Investors Networks looking to start a potentially successful small business.

Specifically, this expansion will target the more than 12,000 veterans that the VA estimates will be returning to Western Georgia over the coming year. Given the tight job market, 30% or more of these returning veterans will attempt to start their own business and will likely require some type of support in beginning that effort.
Further, allow me to provide a little more context for this request and the needs that this Center is seeking to meet. Here are the six counties that this Center services, as well as the unemployment rate in each county: Carroll—11.0% unemployment; Bartow—11.5% unemployment; Floyd—10.4% unemployment; Paulding—9.8% unemployment; Haralson—12.2%; and Polk—10.5% unemployment.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I would much prefer to spend $100,000 to aid the creation of a small business and foster productivity and job growth, rather than allow that $100,000 to fund another welfare or entitlement program. I reference the old adage of giving a man a fish and feeding him for a day—but give him a fishing pole and feed him for life. Well, I believe that this request is clearly an example of the latter.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and reserve the balance of my time.

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