Lawmakers have a chance to unburden small businesses


For Nebraska’s small business owners, the past two years have been anything but easy. From forced closures to supply chain disruptions, entrepreneurs are seeing a new challenge at every turn. The Nebraska Legislature will have an opportunity to provide some much needed stability with two bills scheduled to appear in front of the Appropriations Committee in February. 

Legislative Bill (LB) 1090, introduced by Sen. Myron Dorn, would allow lawmakers to increase funding for the Business Innovation Act’s Microenterprise Assistance Program. This program provides no-cost technical assistance to entrepreneurs that want to start or grow their business. It allows community lenders, like the Center for Rural Affairs, to help them learn the basics when it comes to budgeting, business expansion, and marketing. 

The Legislature has already allocated money to Business Innovation Act programs, but an outdated state law caps the amount that can be used by each. That limits growth at a time when businesses are looking to expand. This proposal, supported by the Department of Economic Development, would put that money to work. 

The Microenterprise Assistance Program also provides capital to allow these same community lenders to make affordable loans to businesses in your community. State law currently limits these loans to $100,000 or less. LB 759, also introduced by Sen. Dorn, would raise that limit to $150,000. 

This increase would make a world of difference to main street business owners. Current limitations force them to seek secondary sources of funding to complete business loans. That additional paperwork and time has turned out to be a real hardship for some, especially for those working as a sole proprietor or juggling a second job. 

While these proposals will fly under the radar for most, small business entrepreneurs might find this to be the most important legislation debated this session.