Friday, September 16, 2005

John Kerry's Relief Package for Small Businesses Devastated by Hurricane Katrina Passes Senate

Contact: April Boyd, 202-224-4159; Marc Comer, 202-224-9431, both of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- With estimates of more than 400,000 jobs lost and 200,000 small business hurt by Hurricane Katrina, the Senate today passed a package of emergency economic aid and federal assistance for small businesses and others reeling from the destruction in the Gulf Coast.

The bipartisan amendment was offered today by Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), Olympia J. Snowe (R- Maine), and David Vitter (R-La). It was authored by Kerry, who authored a similar assistance package for small businesses recovering in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Kerry is the Ranking Member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

"When I was in Louisiana earlier this week, so many people said to me -- 'I want to work, I want to rebuild my home and my life, but I have no place to go.' The Gulf Coast needs so much, and this is a common-sense and very direct way to help people get their jobs and their dignity back," said Kerry. "Small businesses are at the heart of the Gulf Coast's economy and will be crucial to the rebuilding effort, so they are the best place to start when it comes to jump-starting the regional economy."

One of the most comprehensive pieces of the relief package will give small businesses across the country access to low- interest disaster loans to cope with the increased costs of oil, natural gas and gasoline. This will especially benefit farmers, truck drivers and others whose livelihood relies heavily on the price of gas.

In addition, the relief package also provides small businesses in the Gulf Region: * Access to short-term loans or grants that will be rapidly approved to help businesses that are waiting for SBA loan approval begin rebuilding immediately * A one-year deferral on the interest and payments for SBA disaster loans * Access to 30 percent of all federal contracts and 40 percent of subcontracting dollars used in the recovery and relief effort

-- Expanded Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) status, which gives small businesses in the area a preference when bidding on federal contracts

-- Increased counseling and business assistance provided through the SBA's entrepreneurial development centers, including Small Business Development Centers, SCORE, Microloan Technical Assistance, Women's Business Centers, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers * Greater opportunities for small construction companies to receive SBA bonding assistance, which is a type of financial loss insurance on the contract * The ability to refinance existing disaster loans and existing business debt with low-interest disaster loans

The original small business relief package was introduced yesterday by Senators Kerry and Landrieu as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill (S.2862) currently pending in the Senate.

The amendment is also supported by Sens. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Edward M. Kennedy (D- Mass.), and Jon S. Corzine (D-N.J.), and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).


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The U.S. Government is the nation's largest provider of financial assistance to women & minority owned small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is Congressionally mandated to assist the nation’s small businesses in meeting their financing needs. The SBA has small business loan programs and services to meet most small business needs. More information on U.S. Government Small Business Loans can be found at ****

How do Government SBA Small Business Loans work?

When a small business owner applies to a lending institution for a business loan, the lender reviews the application and decides if it merits a busiuness loan or if it requires an SBA guaranty. SBA backing on the business loan is then requested by the lender. In guaranteeing the business loan, the SBA assures the lender that, in the event the borrower does not repay the loan, the government will reimburse the lender for its loss. By providing this guaranty, the Small Business Administration helps tens of thousands of small business owners get financing they would not otherwise obtain.

How much money can I borrow?

Here are a few examples of what you can get from SBA small business loans programs:

7(a) Loan Guaranty Program

The 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program is the SBA's primary small business loan program. A maximum loan amount of $2 million has been established for 7(a) business loans.

Low Documentation Loan (SBALowDoc)

SBALowDoc is the SBA’s quick and easy program that provides a guaranty on small business loans of $150,000 or less. Once you have met your lender’s requirements for credit, the lender may request an SBALowDoc guaranty for up to 85 percent of the loan amount. You complete the front of a one-page SBA application, and the lender completes the back. At SBALowDoc centers, the agency processes completed applications within 36 hours.


This method makes it easier and faster for lenders to provide small business loans of $250,000 or less. The SBA provides a rapid response through its PLP processing center in Sacramento, Calif.— within 36 hours of receiving the complete application package. Lenders use their own procedures to approve and service the loans.


The CommunityExpress pilot program is designed to spur economic development and job creation in untapped rural and inner city communities by providing loans and technical assistance. Loan proceeds may be used for most business purposes, including start-up, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or real-estate acquisitions.
To be eligible for CommunityExpress, current or prospective small businesses must be located in low- and moderate-income urban and rural areas.

While CommunityExpress is similar to SBAExpress, here are some differences:

• CommunityExpress focuses on predesignated geographic areas that primarily low- and moderate-income urban and rural areas.

• The maximum loan amount under CommunityExpress is $250,000.

• CommunityExpress lenders, together with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, provide hands-on technical training and support, both before and after loan closings, through community-based, nonprofit NCRC member organizations.

7(m) Microloan Program

The SBA’s Microloan Program provides very small loans up to $35,000 to small businesses and not-for-profit child-care centers through a network of locally based intermediary lenders. In addition to making the loans, the intermediaries provide management and technical assistance to microborrowers and potential microborrowers.

What can I use the loan proceeds for?

You can use an SBA small business loan to:

• expand or renovate facilities;
• purchase machinery, equipment, fixtures and leasehold improvements;
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• refinance existing debt (with compelling reason);
• finance seasonal lines of credit;
• construct commercial buildings; and/or
• purchase land or buildings.

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