April 12, 2017

ICYMI: InDepthNH: Hassan Bill Would Help The North Country By Giving Young Entrepreneurs A Break

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, InDepthNH covered Senator Maggie Hassan’s visit to the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurship Network in Bethlehem, where she discussed her first bill, the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators (ROI) Act, with women entrepreneurs. Senator Hassan also spoke about the ROI Act with students and entrepreneurs at the UNH Entrepreneurship Center in Durham and innovative business leaders at Conway Tech Village.

Click here for the full story or see below for excerpts:

InDepthNH: Hassan Bill Would Help The North Country By Giving Young Entrepreneurs A Break

By Chris Jensen

BETHLEHEM – Kirsten Silfvenius of Colebrook liked Sen. Maggie Hassan’s idea: help the economy by providing a little fiscal relief for people who want a start a business, but are stymied by student loans.

Silfvenius is trying to get a marketing business going to help other entrepreneurs in the North Country.

And that’s not made any easier because she is still paying off a student loan (think the price of a car) after graduating from Smith College.

“This is 100 percent up my alley and exactly what I would be looking for,” she said Tuesday during a roundtable discussion at the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network (WREN) in Bethlehem.

The discussion centered on Hassan’s first bill: The Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators (ROI) Act of 2017.

Hassan, a Democrat and former governor, said it’s aimed at improving the economy by helping enthusiastic young entrepreneurs start businesses.

“The cost of getting a small business off the ground is really significant,” Hassan said. “And, so, when you have student debt on top of that it really increases the challenge.”

The bill would allow federal student loan payments (including interest) to be deferred for up to three years while launching a small business. It would be available to the founders of the business as well as full-time employees.

In an economically distressed area, the founder and employees would be eligible to have as much as $20,000 forgiven.

… “What this bill calls for is if you want to qualify for the student loan debt relief you have to go to the Small Business Development Center, you have to have a five-year plan and they have to certify that it is an achievable, likely-to-succeed plan,” Hassan said.

It’s sad to think of a generation of people not being able to start a business and that’s a clear problem for the economy, said Elizabeth Penney, WREN’S executive director.

The bill might encourage young people to stay – or attract newcomers – because it would allow them to create a job that they would enjoy, said Jessica Bunker of the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce.

… There’s also, Silfvenius said, a bigger issue in the North Country that the bill would address: attracting and keeping young people “who want to have lives of meaning in communities that are important to them, this would take one more barrier out of the way.”

Hassan said despite the headlines about strife in Congress there are legislators willing to work together on issues of shared interest. And, she thinks this effort to help the economy is one of them.