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Cortez Masto’s bills aim to support small business

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, re-introduced two pieces of legislation to help Nevada’s small businesses compete in the 21st century economy.

The SECURE Small Business Act, co-sponsored by Sens. James Risch, R-Idaho, and Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada, would protect small businesses from expensive data breaches and cyberattacks by establishing a cooperative at the Small Business Administration to help small businesses access information on data protection best practices and enable them to pool their resources to purchase cybersecurity products and services at lower prices.

The Small Business Innovation Voucher Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Todd Young, R-Indiana, and Chris Coons, D-Delaware, would create a voucher program at the SBA to provide federal grants for small businesses to partner with institutions of higher education to conduct research and development.

“In order for Nevada’s small businesses to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and thrive into the future, we must ensure they are building resilience today,” Cortez Masto said. “My bipartisan bills, introduced as part of my Innovation State Initiative, will help provide small businesses with the resources they need to purchase cybersecurity technology, safeguard customer data and fund innovative research and development projects.

“I’m eager to see how small businesses and entrepreneurs from across Nevada adapt to the 21st century economy, and I’ll be with them every step of the way to provide as much federal support as possible.”

The SECURE Small Business Act would establish a cooperative at the SBA, in coordination with the National Institutes for Standards and Technology, to help small businesses access data protection resources and purchase affordable cybersecurity products, services and insurance together.

Specifically the co-op would provide small businesses with recommendations based on their industry and allow multiple small businesses to pool together to leverage lower prices from cybersecurity vendors and establish a website for small businesses and vendors to make these agreements.

The Small Business Innovation Voucher Act would provide small businesses with additional research and development resources by allowing small businesses to work with any institution of higher education to compete for grants to facilitate public-private cooperation on R&D and commercialization of new technologies.

Specifically, the voucher program would provide grants of between $15,000 and $75,000 for projects with a high likelihood of creating a novel technology or that would not be completed without the grant money; prioritize underserved states and markets, including rural areas, businesses owned by low-income individuals, minorities, women, veterans and service members; require reports from the grant recipients on use of funds and reports to Congress from the SBA on program effectiveness; and authorize $10 million per year for the program.

The House version of both pieces of legislation will be introduced by Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colorado.

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