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SBA New Markets Venture Capital Program (CRS Reports)

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Authorized by P.L. 106-554, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2001 (Appendix H: the New Markets Venture Capital Program Act of 2000), the New Markets Venture Capital (NMVC) program is designed to promote economic development and the creation of wealth and job opportunities in low-income geographic areas by addressing the unmet equity investments needs of small businesses located in those areas. Modeled on the Small Business Association’s (SBA’s) Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program, SBA-selected, privately owned and managed NMVC companies provide funding and operational training assistance to small businesses. To do so, they use private capital the NMVC company has raised (called regulatory capital) and up to 150% of that amount (called leverage) from the sale of SBA-guaranteed 10-year debentures, or loan obligations, to third parties, subject to the availability of funds. Because the SBA guarantees the debenture, the SBA is able to obtain favorable interest rates. NMVC companies are responsible for meeting the terms and conditions set forth in the debenture. At least 80% of the investments must be in small businesses located in a low-income area. Specialized Small Business Investment Companies (SSBICs) established under the SBIC program are also eligible for NMVC operational assistance training grants, which are awarded on a dollar-to-dollar matching basis. Six NMVC companies are currently participating in the program. The NMVC program was appropriated $21.952 million in FY2001 to support up to $150 million in SBA-guaranteed debentures and $30 million to fund operational assistance training grants for FY2001 through FY2006. The funds were provided in a lump sum in FY2001 and were to remain available until expended. In 2003, the unobligated balances of $10.5 million for the NMVC debenture subsidies and $13.75 million for operational assistance grants were rescinded. The program continues to operate, with the number and amount of financing declining in recent years as the program’s initial investments expire and NMVC companies engage only in additional follow-on financings with the small businesses in their portfolios. No bills have been introduced during the 113th Congress concerning the NMVC program. However, more than 30 bills were introduced in recent Congresses to either expand or amend the program. Many of these bills would have increased the program’s funding. For example, during the 112th Congress, H.R. 2872, the Job Creation and Urban Revitalization Act of 2011, was introduced on September 8, 2011. The bill would have provided the NMVC program such subsidy budget authority as may be necessary to guarantee $75 million of debentures and $15 million for operational assistance training grants for FY2012 through FY2013. This report examines the NMVC program’s legislative origins and describes the program’s eligibility and performance requirements for NMVC companies, eligibility requirements for small businesses seeking financing, and definition of low-income areas. It also reviews regulations governing the SBA’s financial assistance to NMVC companies and provides program statistics. The report concludes with an examination of (1) efforts to eliminate the program based on concerns that it duplicates other SBA programs and is relatively expensive, (2) the rescission of the program’s unobligated funding in 2003, and (3) recent congressional efforts to provide the program additional funds.

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