federal agency

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. 

How SBIR/STTR spent $2.7 billion in FY 2016

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released its FY 2016 annual report for the $2.4 billion obligated by the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and $313.6 million by the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The report includes the number and dollar amount of SBIR and STTR awards for each state. New Phase I SBIR awards by agency are summarized in the following table.

SSTI submits OZ comments to IRS

This fall, the IRS released proposed Opportunity Zone rules, which did not address several key questions for business investment. SSTI submitted comments for official consideration last week, requesting that rules clarify initial investment periods, interim returns and qualifying business activity locations. Several organizations echoed similar concerns, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Other comments posted to the site include calls for requirements that would facilitate greater impact, including screening potential bad actors, encouraging investments in ESOPs, and measuring economic impacts for current zone residents. Read SSTI’s full letter

More collaboration needed in quantum computing

With at least six federal agencies supporting quantum computing research and at least 10 agencies supporting synthetic biology research, more collaboration is needed to effectively marshal the agencies’ efforts to maintain U.S. competitiveness, according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

New Treasury rules create opportunity to advance local innovation economies

Organizations that assist and finance innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship have largely been left out of one of America’s great drivers of local investment: Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) activities by banks. Now, with the U.S. Department of Treasury actively seeking to modernize CRA regulations, the tech-based economic development community has an opportunity to help CRA to become a tool for advancing local innovation economies. All parties are encouraged to read below for more information and to submit comments by Nov. 19.

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