With cash registers not ringing like they used to, trade is becoming a practical solution for small businesses looking to survive and grow.

Small businesses already play a vital role in America’s trade and commerce, representing 97 percent of all exporters. Yet, with only one percent of small firms exporting their goods—making up slightly more than a quarter of the country’s export volume—trade remains dominated by larger businesses.

Entrepreneurs from across the country have told me that available services to help them enter the trade market and remain internationally competitive are in need of vital, but simple, changes. That is why I’ve introduced the Small Business International Trade Enhancements Act, which makes key improvements to some of the export assistance and trade programs offered by the Small Business Administration. The bill increases the number of trade specialists available to aid small exporters and helps to ensure that small firms have more opportunities to grow their businesses by expanding into international markets.

Earlier this year, I, along with Small Business Committee Ranking Member Snowe and Senator Schumer, asked United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk to create an Assistant Trade Representative focused exclusively on small business. This bill reasserts my call for the position to help raise the profile of small firms and ensure that the interests of these entrepreneurs are represented during trade negotiations.

To raise additional awareness of small business trade opportunities and further explore needed changes, I’ll be holding a field hearing in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 30.

As our nation digs out of the economic crisis, small business trade should be a top priority. What helps our entrepreneurs helps our entire economy—every $1 billion of exports creates more than 14,000 high-paying American jobs. By creating jobs and lessening the trade deficit, an increase in small business trade will help get us out of this recession and make our nation better able to compete in the global marketplace.