Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, along with Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, have introduced S. 3506, the Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act of 2010, a bill that creates a broadband and emerging information technology coordinator in the Small Business Administration. The bill also supports technology training for women via certain business centers.
The new administrator will be responsible for coordinating broadband training programs for the SBA’s staff as well as programs that allow small business entrepreneurs to access the raw technology materials necessary for running a business in the broadband, Internet age.
Sounds tame enough, until you read a little closer and see that blacks, Hispanics, and Asians are left out of the bill’s language.
Kind of surprising coming from Democrats. Then again, this is the party that gave us a Julius Genachowski-led Federal Communications Commission, the same FCC that overlooked us during the early stages of the development of its national broadband plan.
The other issue standing out is the bill’s failure to clearly state problems with the relevant markets at issue in broadband. For example, the bill doesn’t clarify whether content and applications providers are having problems accessing technology from technology providers such as computer makers, router providers, etc.
The bill does not say that given the excess demand for technology on the part of content providers, we feel it necessary to cure this market failure by providing low interest loans or even loan guarantees.
Instead we get mostly language about the need for technology training amongst SBA staff and the need for exposure by small business entrepreneurs to existing technology. The bill is all over the place.
S. 3506 is a good start but needs work. First, expand the intent to include minorities. Second, make it clear what problems in the market and which markets in particular are we trying to fix.