federal agency

DoD and Commerce seeking comments on supply chain rules

The Department of Defense is seeking comments and information on President Biden’s Executive Order, “America’s Supply Chains,” which directs several federal agency actions to secure and strengthen the country’s supply chains. The U.S. Department of Commerce is also seeking public input on a licensing or other pre-clearance process for entities engaging in certain information and communications technology and services transactions (ICTS Transactions).

Key Biden nominees have background in economic development initiatives

President Joe Biden’s nominees to economic and energy roles have experience with regional growth initiatives. Readers of the Digest may be familiar with some of the names, as we have covered their activities in their previous roles. The nominees of the president’s economic team include former Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, nominated to lead the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Don Graves as deputy secretary; Isabel Guzman nominated to become administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA); former Michigan Gov.

Biden names science advisor, makes position cabinet level

President Joe Biden has named geneticist Eric Lander the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the president’s science advisor. Biden also promoted the science advisor role to a cabinet-level position, becoming the first president to do so, stating that, “science will always be at the forefront of my administration.”

Venture CDFIs triple in two years; advice from SSTI members on pursuing this approach

The federal Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund released a new report profiling certified CDFIs in FY 2019. Notably, 14 active CDFIs are certified as venture funds, an increase from just four in FY 2017. Between the periods covered by these reports, the CDFI Fund updated their certification process and received encouragement from SSTI and members to be more open to equity financial structures. The results suggest that this change has taken place.

Administration files rules to raise H-1B wage requirements, limit eligibility

Earlier this week, the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Labor (DOL) filed interim final rules related to the H-1B visa application process.

The DHS rule is not yet available, but a press release indicates its purpose is to limit the definition of “specialty occupation” and to close “loopholes.” The rule will take effect 60 days after it is published.

SEC relaxes crowdfunding rules for 10 months

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is implementing a rule that relaxes restrictions on crowdfunding through next February, according to a Federal Register notice published today. The net result of the temporary rule is to accelerate the timeline for a company to access capital through crowdfunding, at the expense of some public access and investor information.

Treasury allows states’ CARES funds to assist small businesses

Last week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury published new guidance for how state and local governments can use the $150 billion in relief funds provided by the CARES Act. The guidance provides some flexibility to recipients to address “second-order effects” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resources for small business in dealing with COVID-19

The fallout from COVID-19 is growing as unemployment numbers skyrocket, small businesses are faced with closures, and employers try to protect both their business and employees. A just-released national study conducted by America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and Thryv Inc.,  found that 69 percent of U.S. small businesses have already experienced a large drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic and 60 percent believe demand will continue to decline. States, too, have seen their budget situations take a dramatic turn and universities have had to send students home. Below you will find some of the resources available to businesses and universities in dealing with COVID-19 pressures, as well as new funding opportunities from federal agencies for those seeking assistance. For more information on how states are responding, several organizations are posting daily updates and are referenced below. 

The resources listed are divided into help for small businesses, updates on states' reactions, and federal resources. Please click through on the read more link for a brief synopsis of each resource followed by more information below the bulleted list. 

SEC proposes changes to exempt offerings including crowdfunding

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently proposed rule changes that aim to make fundraising easier for new companies, including by expanding crowdfunding’s applicability and allowing for “demo day” communications. The changes target three particular methods of exemptions: Regulation A, Rule 504 of Regulation D, and Regulation Crowdfunding.

Innovation on hold for 1-out-of-4 SBIR winners

Federal agencies fail, on average, 24 percent of the time to notify applicant small businesses of award decisions within required deadlines. A small business has a zero percent chance of being able to plan to start an innovation project within six months if they apply to ARPA-E (the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency) or the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, both of which never met the deadline. 

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