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Congresswoman Tsongas speaks to the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce


From the woman who runs a business out of her home to the firm with 200 employees that designs high-tech products for the Defense Department, our small businesses serve vastly divergent markets and have differing needs. Historically, small businesses help bring economies out of recession, are highly motivated to innovate, and create a significant percentage of new jobs.



I recognize how important it is for our state and our nation to remain competitive in the global economy. Massachusetts is one of the top research and development economies in the world, ranking first among states for patents, R&D, andSBIR awards per capita, according to the Journal of New England Technology.

The SBIR program is often described as the most successful federal government research and development program because of its proven track record in creating jobs and fostering innovation in Massachusetts and across the country. The program’s success hinges on its ability to provide small firms with small-dollar awards to give them a jumpstart when private financing is unavailable. Massachusetts firms have received the second highest total number of awards and the second highest total dollar amount awarded. Per capita, it has by far the highest total in both categories.

In the House of Representatives, I have led the fight to protect the SBIR programWhen outside interest groups were advocating changes to the program that would have altered its original intent, forcing the federal government to adopt ‘second best’ technology and putting Massachusetts small businesses at a disadvantage, I repeatedly rallied a bipartisan group of House members from around the country to oppose these outside interests and to demonstrate support for true small business. I worked to prevent these proposed changes to the program from going into effect and instead sought an extension of the program that preserved its original intent of supporting small and emerging businesses. In December 2011, with my support as a member of the conference committee tasked with creating a final legislative package, Congress reauthorized this critical job creation tool for Massachusetts small businesses without these harmful changes. As a result of this work, I was named a “Champion of Small Business Innovation” by the National Small Business Association (NSBA) and the Small Business Technology Council in 2010 and 2011.

In a letter thanking me for my efforts, the NSBA wrote, "without your valiant efforts to secure the recent extension, it is entirely possible that SBIR and STTR would have been allowed to lapse… you have proven yourselves stalwart small-business advocates…NSBA thanks you for your indispensable and politically-courageous efforts."

 For the entire letter, visit:

I continue to work closely with SBIR companies in Massachusetts to ensure that the Small Business Administration is implementing the law in accordance with Congress's goal of keeping it targeted on true small businesses and to prepare for the next reauthorization battle.

You can read more here about the impact the SBIR program has in the Third District and Massachusetts.

 For a broader overview on the SBIR program visit:




After hearing from constituents about the difficulties faced by small businesses in winning government contracts, I joined Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis (WY) in introducing the Small Business Fairness Act to make it easier for small businesses to join forces and team up to win larger contracts.

In response to concerns from Third District small business owners about the administrative burdens that a new provision requiring them to file additional 1099 forms with IRS would pose on them, I was one of the first members of my party to push for its repeal, an example of my interest in reaching across the aisle. This measure is now law. 

I also supported repeal of the onerous 3% withholding provisions which, while intended to reduce tax evasion, would have essentially forced small businesses to provide the government with months-long zero-interest loans.  This measure is also now law.

I supported new tax credits to help small businesses afford health coverage. The credits (for up to 35 percent of an employer's contribution to health care in 2010-2013 and up to 50 percent in 2014) will provide an estimated $40 billion in assistance to small businesses over 10 years to make coverage affordable.  To learn more about how health care reform will affect your business, please see my health care reform page.

Too many big corporations have unfairly taken advantage of federal programs targeted at small businesses, which is why I cosponsored legislation to close loopholes that allow big firms to qualify as small businesses when applying for government contracts.

In previous Congresses, hearing directly from constituents led me to introduce bills, endorsed by the non-partisan National Small Business Association, to guarantee that consumers and small business owners are able to access their deposited funds sooner and to provide immediate tax relief to small business owners who were forced to withdraw from their retirement savings during the recession to keep their businesses going.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have also worked hard to ensure that I bring leaders in Washington to Massachusetts to meet with businesses here.  In August 2014, Representative Mike Turner (Republican-OH) accepted my invitation to visit the Third District, reflecting our years-long successful across-the-aisle collaboration.  Over the course of two days, we conducted a series of meetings, tours and discussions regarding ways to improve economic development in our respective regions.  I arranged a roundtable where representatives from local businesses, military installations, academic institutions, and research partners discussed the importance of businesses in the district and Commonwealth to the military.  This forum also provided a great opportunity for the participants to suggest ways that the defense acquisition system could be updated to better meet the needs of the Department of Defense and industry.  As a result, I was able to submit numerous recommendations for the ongoing acquisition reform effort that is being lead by the House Armed Services Committee, thereby, ensuring the interests of the Third District and the Commonwealth are represented in Washington.

This trip was only the most recent made by congressional leaders to our district to meet with our companies.  In previous years, Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), the highest ranking Democratic member on the House Armed Services Committee, accepted my invitation to tour Hanscom Air Force Base and Lincoln Laboratory, and to meet with defense contractors located in this district so that he could have a firsthand view of the innovative work being done here. 

In addition to my outreach with senior members of the House Armed Services Committee, I have also worked closely with other senior members of Congress to ensure our local businesses have a voice.  Congressman Michael Michaud of Maine and I worked to include legislation in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would require the Department of Defense to purchase only American-made athletic shoes for new recruits, bringing athletic shoes in line with current law that requires all military uniforms to be completely made in America.  As a result, the Department of Defense recently changed their policy to require that all athletic shoes offered to military recruits be made in America, when available.  Since this change in policy, New Balance, a company in the Third District, has developed a new, completely American-made athletic shoe that will bring jobs from overseas back to America.


Read my 2013 OpEd from the Boston Herald about legislation I sponsored to support a Make it in America agenda.

Listen to my interview on WGBH Radio about growing U.S. manufacturing.

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