Lawmakers Say Small Businesses Vital to Disaster Recovery

The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee recently held a roundtable to discuss a bill introduced last month that would allow small businesses to more easily access federal aid after a disaster hits. In fact, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who introduced the bill with Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., believes that aiding small businesses after a disaster will help speed up recovery efforts.

“Our small businesses are the economic heartbeat of these communities,” said Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. “They deserve to get the fastest and best help possible, particularly businesses that take the risk of being the first to open back up before they even know if anybody else is coming back,” Landrieu was quoted as saying by USA Today.

The bill goal: to fix problems that resulted after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast in 2005 and after Superstorm Sandy struck Northeast in late 2012. The main problem, according to the small business owners, was the slow response and red tape they had to endure when dealing with the Small Business Administration. In fact, some business loans took more than two months to process after the hurricanes. While improvements have been made since then, more progress needs to be made, according to lawmakers.

Under a bill called the Small Business Disaster Reform Act, the agency would update requirements so that businesses would not be required to use their personal homes as collateral for business loans under $200,000. It would also allow out-of-state small-business development centers to give aid to businesses in disaster areas as deemed by the president.

“We’re offering common-sense, fiscally responsible proposals to make it easier for small businesses to reopen and get back to work following a disaster,” Cochran said when the bill was introduced Feb. 28. “This will help them keep people employed, provide vital services and stabilize the local economy.”

For more information about the Small Business Disaster Reform Act, visit: